The old railroad tracks that used to run through the lower trail in Cowiche Canyon.
As the railway through Cowiche Canyon was shut down in the early 1980s, a group of local outdoor enthusiasts formed Cowiche Canyon Conservancy to protect Cowiche Canyon. These committed volunteers saw the beauty of Cowiche Canyon and an opportunity to convert the abandoned rail line into a trail. Cowiche Canyon Conservancy was incorporated as a non-profit on April 29, 1985.
The organization worked over the years to acquire small parcels of land adjacent to the old railbed in the Canyon as they became available. By 2000, CCC owned about 200 acres of land in the Canyon. In 2005, CCC had an opportunity to purchase an 1,800 acre ranch site on Cowiche Mountain, a few miles west of Cowiche Canyon. The purchase of that ranch site, known as Snow Mountain Ranch, grew CCC’s ownership from 200 to 2,000 acres overnight. With more land came more trails, more visibility, and more cost to restore and maintain the landscape. The organization recognized the need to invest in staff and began raising funds to do so.
In late 2009, CCC hired its first full time Executive Director and has steadily grown its programs and staff over the last decade. To date, CCC owns and manages over 5,000 acres of grasslands, sage, flowering meadows, oak woodlands, and basalt cliffs. CCC offers more than 30 miles of trails through several types of ecological zones. The Conservancy’s work ranges from conservation and recreation to community education concerning our native landscapes
Celisa joined Cowiche Canyon Conservancy in 2014. She has 20 years of experience in non-profit program management and administration. Celisa grew up in Yakima and loves being outdoors with family and friends, and is passionate about getting people out on the landscape to experience the unique beauty of the shrub-steppe.
Before joining CCC in 2009, Betsy was the Eastern Washington Forests Program Director for The Nature Conservancy. Betsy served as the Executive Director from 2009 – 2017. Betsy holds a Master of Science degree in Natural Resource Management from Central Washington University and has worked at the state and national levels on collaborative conservation.
Cindy grew up in the Yakima Valley and her passion for the outdoors developed at an early age, spending many years in Cowiche Canyon, running up and down the hills, along the railroad tracks and swimming in the creek. She loves being able to help protect this landscape for future generations to enjoy too.
Ted recently retired from a thirty year career as a biologist and manager at the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. His many skills are being put to great use in the field as we grow our lands base and recreational opportunities.