From the rugged wilderness peaks and alpine lakes of the high Cascades to the sage-dotted foothills and meandering rivers of the Columbia Basin, the Upper Yakima Basin attracts people to live and recreate. Dotted with small farming, ranching, and mining communities, home to the college town of Ellensburg, and the apples and hops capital of Yakima, there is a long tradition of responsible recreation and working lands in the Upper Yakima Basin that continues to this day. However, with the Seattle Metro area’s 4 million residents only a latte away from the Upper Yakima Basin, the number of people recreating in the region has steadily increased over the years. The once secluded trails, campgrounds, roads, and lands are increasingly being discovered and enjoyed by a new and diverse audience.
In order to ensure the Upper Yakima Basin will continue to have thriving recreation, thriving communities, and thriving nature, the Cle Elum and Naches Ranger Districts on the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest want to better understand what attracts residents and visitors to the places they go to recreate. To accomplish this, the Forest Service has partnered with Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, Central Washington University, and a growing coalition of land management agencies and recreation groups to form the East Cascades Recreation Partnership (ECRP). This group has the goal of developing a community-lead vision for the future of sustainable recreation in the Upper Yakima Basin. As a first step, the ECRP wants to know where people currently go to recreate, what draws them to these areas, and what challenges and opportunities to they see for enhancing recreation across the basin.
“This year-long recreation survey is really about helping us better understand how you use your public lands. We want to work collaboratively across land management areas and in partnership with all recreation groups and users to enhance our communities, our natural resources, and our recreation experiences for visitors and residents.”– Cle Elum District Ranger Michelle Capp