Not long after establishing our first full-time staffperson on the east side of the Greenway, we realized something: if we were going to be able to help Yakima Basin partners with trail work, tree planting efforts, or volunteer projects, we needed a local supply of tools. A couple trips over Snoqualmie Pass with truckbeds full of shovels and pulaskis from our Lake Sammamish field base convinced us of that fact; what an inefficient use of fuel and staff time! As our project list in Kittitas County continues to grow, we reasoned that eventually we’d run into conflicts between east and west Greenway project dates. The Greenway is more than a hundred miles long, and our tools were stretching thin across I-90.
With grant funds from the Suncadia Fund for Community Enhancement, and a donation of goods from REI, we successfully established the Kittitas Tool Cache towards the end of 2018. Like our field base at Lake Sam, it boasts a large stock of hand-tools for trail work and habitat restoration. Uniquely, however, the Kittitas Cache is available to partners willing to contribute a small annual maintenance fee. Large-scale volunteer projects have often been difficult to organize in the eastern Greenway, due to a lack of available equipment between local organizations. More than just a tool cache, we designed it to be a tool lending library, and we needed an appropriate way to manage it as such.
With the help of lending library software from myturn.com (a company that grew from the West Seattle Tool Library), we created a portal where members can view available tools, reserve their desired item for the date of their event, and schedule pick up and drop off times with the tool cache manager. Not only does this make it easy to track who has what tools, and when, but it also lets members see when their upcoming workdates may conflict with another partner’s event or volunteer project. We can even track the condition of tools, worksite locations, and replacement costs. The portal went live in January, and so far it’s pretty awesome.
We hope the Kittitas Tool Cache will be a valuable resource to land managers and enviro .orgs on the east side. Already we’ve shared out tools with Conservation Northwest, the local chapter of the Evergreen Mountain Bike Association, and The Nature Conservancy. Once the snows melt, we’re excited to see who else steps forward to make use of this new toolkit.