Outings & Events

What’s going on!

There are many ways to experience Shrub-Steppe.

Cowiche Canyon Conservancy holds a variety of events and activities to increase opportunities for kids and adults to learn about the unique natural environment of the shrub-steppe and connect people to these lands. We work with a variety of partners including other non-profit organizations, schools, and local, state, and federal agencies to engage the community with our work and build support for our conservation work. 


A collaboration of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra, Cowiche Canyon Conservancy and friends celebrating the work and lives of pollinators in our midst.


CCC and Yakima Symphony Orchestra present Pollinators: A Hero’s Life — an exhibit celebrating the heroic lives of pollinators. We are currently seeking submissions in the following mediums: drawing, printmaking, fiber art, painting, photography and mixed media.

Deadline for entries: January 15, 2019

Pollinators fertilize flowers by moving pollen from the male part (anther) of a flower to the female part (stigma). Pollination results in seeds and fruits and the next generation of plants. Bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, hummingbirds and bats are some of the pollinators that carry pollen from one plant to another as they collect nectar. These heroic pollinators play an extremely important role in our food supply, local economy and ecosystem.


As part of “Pollinators: A Hero’s Life,” talented local artist Christie Tirado will guide an art making activity for kids at the Downtown Yakima Library.

When: Saturday, January 19, 2 pm (1st session) and 3:30 pm (2nd session)

Where: Yakima Central Library (102 N. 3rd Street, Yakima).


Our Community Walks are family friendly and educational. Get outside and join us! The 2019 schedule is below.


When: Saturday, January 19, 10am to 12:30pm

Where: Snow Mountain Ranch


Join us for a chance to sharpen your animal tracking skills! We’ll be examining a variety of animal scat and prints to get a sense of who and what – from quail to coyotes to who knows – may be roaming these lands.


This is a great event for kids. But please note that we plan to be outside, in the middle of the winter, for at least two hours. To stay warm, please dress for cold weather, wear sturdy and warm footwear, and bring water and snacks.


January can bring unpredictable and hazardous weather. We’re hoping for some snow cover to offer an ideal tracking landscape. But please check this Event Page or the Outings page on our website for event updates and announcements.

Beaver Tracks, Snow Mtn Ranch_DH38070_edited-2


When: Tuesday, February 5, 2019, 6:30 pm – 8:00pm

Where: Snow Mountain Ranch


What are stars? What’s that constellation? What else is out there? Why are we here? With a trained astronomer as your guide, look up, wonder, and learn about our galaxy! Our guide, Dr. Cassandra Fallscheer, is a trained astronomer in the Physics Department of Central Washington University. She is the Director of the University’s observatory.


-This event is SOLD OUT. We have reached our registration capacity. But we are still accepting registrations for a Waiting List. We will prioritize the waiting list in the order RSVPs are received. To join the Waiting List, please email eco@cowichecanyon.org with the names and contact info (email / phone) of ALL the people in your party.


– Meet in the Snow Mountain Ranch Parking Lot.


– Dress for cold weather.


– Because this event requires clear skies, please check this event page for updates about event postponement or cancellation due to weather.


– Please DO NOT bring dogs or other pets to this event. We will be outside during dusk, the height activity time for mountain lion and other predators. For the safety of yourself, others, and your pets, leave the furry ones at home.


When: Tuesday, March 12, 2019, 3:00 pm – 4:30pm

Where: Snow Mountain Ranch (flooding dependent, check this page for updates)


Beavers are busy at Snow Mountain Ranch. As a precursor to Ben Goldfarb’s Winter Lecture, “Beavers: Their Landscapes, Our Future,” join us to see in person how these esteemed engineers transform riparian landscapes.


– Meet in the Snow Mountain Ranch Parking Lot


– Please DO NOT bring dogs or other pets to this event. Because we will be trying to observe wildlife while minimizing disturbances, we ask you to kindly leave your own furry mammals at home.

Community Walks are open to all ages. Walkers should wear sturdy shoes and outdoor clothes and come prepared for any weather. Walks typically last 1.5 – 2 hours. Feel free to bring binoculars and cameras. Call (509) 248-5065 with questions or email info@cowichecanyon.org. Directions to all of our trailheads can be found on the Trails Page.


Our Winter Lecture Series explores scientific concepts and phenomena related to the shrub steppe.


When: Tuesday, January 15, 7pm

Where: Yakima Valley College


Terri Knoke, of the Washington Native Plant Society, will describe her own personal journey into the world of native plants, especially those of the shrub steppe of the Columbia Basin. She will relate how, at the age of sixty, she fell down the rabbit hole of botany and art and into the wonderland of native plants. The desert parsleys were her downfall, and in tribute to them she will relate stories about ten species of Lomatium that live here on Cowiche Canyon Conservancy lands. How are these plants connected to fish and grapefruits? Come find out at this presentation on the diverse and fascinating genera of native plants.


Terri Knoke is a retired chemical engineer who lives in Burbank, Washington.  She was first formally introduced to the study of wildflowers in 1998, attending a 4-day North Cascades Institute wildflower class.  In 2014 she was asked to illustrate a new species of Lomatium discovered by her uncle, Don Knoke, and thus started a new passion: botanical art. Terri recently received national recognition as “Best of Show” for a watercolor as part of the University of Colorado’s Museum of Natural History in 2017, and is currently part of a travelling nationwide exhibition. As a member of the Washington Native Plant Society she continues to promote wildflowers through her art and volunteer service.


When: Tuesday, February 26, 7 pm

Where: Yakima Valley College

Like in many streams in the Yakima Basin, salmon and steelhead runs in Cowiche Creek disappeared when development blocked fish passage and diverted stream flows. In this talk, Alex Conley, Executive Director of the Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board, will describe the partnerships that were built and the projects that have been completed to return salmon and steelhead to Cowiche Creek. It’s a great success story about restoring a creek and continuing to sustain the farms it runs through. He’ll also touch on the restoration work now happening in the watershed, and how climate change may affect streams like Cowiche Creek.

Alex is Executive Director of the Yakima Basin Fish and Wildlife Recovery Board. He spent his early years wandering the woods and backwaters of New England, and then got lost in Senegal in West Africa as a Peace Corps volunteer- and later trainer- doing agroforestry work in Wolof villages. He has an undergrad in biology and environmental studies from Williams College and a Masters from the University of Arizona in Renewable Natural Resource Management, where his research work focused on collaborative approaches to managing forest and grazing lands. For the last 16 years he has run small locally-based organizations focused on watershed management and salmon habitat restoration in eastern Oregon and Washington. He is happiest when trying to puzzle out how natural and human history, current land use, and policy come together to shape the landscapes we live in.


When: Tuesday, March 12, 7 pm

Where: Yakima Valley College


Author Ben Goldfarb reveals that our modern idea of what a healthy landscape looks like and how it functions is wrong, distorted by the fur trade that once trapped out millions of beavers from North America’s lakes and rivers. The consequences of losing beavers were profound: streams eroded, wetlands dried up, and salmon lost vital habitat. Today, a growing coalition of “Beaver Believers”―including scientists, ranchers, and passionate citizens―recognizes that ecosystems with beavers are far healthier than those without them. Ben’s talk will cover the extraordinary ecology of this influential species; describe how beavers transform landscapes; and detail how these remarkable rodents can help us fight drought, wildfire, biodiversity loss, and climate change. 


Ben Goldfarb is an award-winning environmental journalist who covers wildlife management and conservation biology. His work has been featured in Science, Mother Jones, The Guardian, High Country News, Audubon Magazine, and many other publications. He holds a master of environmental management degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. Ben is the author of Eager: The Surprising, Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, named one of the 50 most notable nonfiction books of 2018 by the Washington Post.

Lupine & Gray's Desert Parsley, Snow Mtn Ranch 21I-09.15 dup_edited-1


Save the date for 2019!  Sunday, April 28, 2 – 5 pm at the Yakima Area Arboretum


Saturday, April 20, 2019


Stay tuned for events to come!