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Kittitas Environmental Education Network’s 17th edition of Get Intimate Shrub Steppe brought people of all ages to the Yakima River Canyon on Saturday for a day of exploration.

The activities varied from nature hikes in the canyon to a Rattlesnake Run and beer tasting at Helen McCabe State Park. At the Umtanum Recreation Area, people circled around educational booths presented by CWU’s biology and anthropology departments.

Colin Connors, a CWU undergraduate studying biology and sustainable tourism, represented the Wild Horse Wind Farm and Puget Sound Energy. Connors said he is interested in finding and telling others about new ways for cities and companies to use renewable energy. Connors grew up in Cle Elum, and has been interested in studying renewable energy for quite a while, especially focusing on wind and solar power sources. As an intern with Puget Sound Energy, Connors is able to learn and interact with renewable energy everyday.

James Brown, a graduate student in CWU’s anthropology department, assisted in an archaeology booth that displayed about 12 animal skulls. Every time someone walked up to the booth, Brown held up one of the biggest skulls on the table and asked, “What animal does this skull belong to?”

After a couple of tries, Brown gave the answer: a tiger.

He said although the animal has never lived in North America, the students brought the skull out for the coolness factor.

Most of the skulls on the table were those of animals that once lived in Pacific Northwest. One of the animal skull heads, the Pronghorn antelope, disappeared from Washington more than 100 years ago, but Brown said it is being re-introduced back into this area.

Other booths focused on stream restoration, the Wanapum tribe and the interaction of snakes and reptiles. The booth featured pythons, night snakes, the southern alligator lizard and many more. Kids and adults were able to touch and hold the snakes.

Joey Chase headed the snake and reptile booth and said his hope is that through events such as Get Intimate Shrub Steppe, he can interact and tell others about snakes and help them learn to not be afraid of them.

Get Intimate Shrub Steppe has taken on a variety of forms in recent years, and this year marked a return to a full day of activities in the canyon.

Carlyn Moser, a KEEN board member, said the event helps raise environmental awareness and promote community engagement. She added much of the information available at Saturday’s booths would be a part of a proposed Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center at Helen McCabe Park.

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