Despite restrictions imposed on gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic, a local government representative found time last Thursday to meet with local leaders and constituents to gain a pulse on the current state of life in Kittitas County.
Rep. Kim Schrier (D) spent her day visiting multiple sites throughout the county, where she took time to touch on issues related to the county’s economy and to catch up on multiple environmental projects in the works.
During her time in the county, Rep. Schrier paid a visit to a fuel reduction project site within the Roslyn Urban Forest with members of the Roslyn Fire Department, The Nature Conservancy, Kittitas County Conservation District, and Kittitas County Commissioner Laura Osiadacz. Osiadacz explained that with a combination of public and private funding, the fire department working to thin and clear underbrush and fuels in Roslyn Community forest, the results of which will help the town and surrounding communities from the threat of catastrophic wildfire.
“There is a full-time crew that has been working this summer on these projects,” Osiadacz said. “What we always come back to is that we’re doing work now on the land to not only make fire resilient forests but also healthy forests for the various species that live there.”
Osiadacz said visits like the one Schrier made to the county last week are incredibly helpful for local representatives to advocate for project funding at the federal level.
“That’s where a lot of the funding has the ability to come from,” she said. “Kittitas County of the last few years has established some wonderful working relationships within the state, but the federal level is definitely important. That’s something that we are continuing to work on, building our relationships with our federal representatives.”
Schrier also visited a site Amabilis Mountain to see lands slated for protection due to the recent passage of the Great American Outdoors Act, which in turn permanently funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). According to the release, using LWCF funding, the Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest and partners including The Nature Conservancy will have an enhanced ability to protect fish and wildlife habitat in the upper headwaters of the Yakima River Basin. Rep. Schrier was joined by Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest Superintendent Kristin Bail and representatives from the U.S. Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and Mountains to Sound Greenway.
“We were delighted to celebrate the passage of the Great American Outdoors Act by visiting Amabilis Mountain, a spectacular area that will be protected as a result of the bill,” The Nature Conservancy Forest Partnerships Manager Darcy Batura said in the release. “As we looked out over the beautiful upper valley, we talked about how the Great American Outdoors Act will deliver tools and resources to support our public lands, from expanding recreational access, to protecting working forests, and fixing aging infrastructure. The Act is a big win for Central Washington, and we are grateful for Congresswoman Schrier’s support for the bill.”
Schrier took time during her visit to meet with Cle Elum Mayor Jay McGowan and local small business leaders at the Kittitas County Chamber Business Development Center. According to the release, Rep. Schrier and local leaders spoke about how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Kittitas County businesses and what the opening of the Kittitas County Chamber Business Development Center will mean for small business owners and entrepreneurs. Mayor McGowan said the visit from Rep. Schrier was one of many she has made over the course of her term.
“Rep. Schrier has worked hard to make connections with the local communities,” McGowan said of the meeting.
Other stops made by Rep. Schrier included a visit to Hairpin Ranch in Ellensburg with state Rep. Tom Dent. According to the release, Hairpin Ranch is a 274-acre working ranch that was recently protected from development by an easement secured through the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) program, the mission of which is to improve, protect, and conserve natural resources on private lands through a cooperative partnership with state and local agencies. Schrier also attended a Vietnam-era veterans’ pinning ceremony for two veterans in Cle Elum, a husband and wife.
“My favorite part of being a Representative is getting to meet my constituents all over the district,” Rep. Schrier said in the release. “Even with the pandemic going on, businesses are still open and projects to protect our wildlife and natural habitats are still ongoing. It was helpful to hear directly from local leaders and my constituents about these projects and how the pandemic has affected them.”