Who We Are

Photo: Michael Northrup

Our Mission

The mission of Cowiche Canyon Conservancy is to protect shrub-steppe habitat and connect people to this vanishing landscape.

Our History

In late 1987, CCC acquired the right of way through the canyon floor for $1,000 and in 1990 the Cowiche Canyon Trail was established.

Cowiche Canyon Conservancy Railroad Tracks Hiking Trails Yakima, WA Conservation Photo: David Hagen
Photo: David Hagen

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

Our Staff

Celisa Hopkins Executive Director Cowiche Canyon Conservancy Yakima WA Mission

Celisa Hopkins

Executive Director

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.

profile cutthroat

Cy Philbrick

Education and Community Outreach Coordinator

In 2018, Cy joined CCC to strengthen the organization’s educational programming and to deepen local investment in public spaces. He has worked in diverse education, communications, and consulting roles, helping businesses and the public make decisions that consider both ecology and economics. With CCC, he is excited to continue to learn about the wonders of the natural world.

Kristi headshot canyon

Kristi Weeks

Development and Admin Assistant

Kristi joined CCC in June of 2019 as administrative support for CCC’s fundraising, membership, and general office activities.  She is originally from Issaquah, Washington and worked many years as a land use planner in California and Oregon. In 2019, Kristi relocated from Las Vegas, Nevada where she managed a non-profit that provided extensive volunteer support to the Bureau of Land Management. She is looking forward to learning about the shrub-steppe landscape and is grateful for the opportunity to join the effort to preserve this beautiful ecosystem.

Ted Clausing Land Steward Cowiche Canyon Conservancy Yakima WA

Ted Clausing

Land Steward

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.

Our Board of Directors

Nate Gilbert


Colleda Monick

Vice President

Betsy Nagle-McNaughton


Bill Bosch


Cal Blethen

 Past President

Roy Bauerle

Tim Franks

Nate Fulton

Talia Ibargüen

Mary Jacky

Sara Holtzinger

Lisbeth Kaplan

Amy Matthews

Mike Preacher

Matt Tweedy

Vicki WangMiller

Tom Zeilman

Newsletters & Annual Reports


2015 Annual Report

2016 Annual Report

2017 Annual Report

coming soon

“Thank you for all you do in helping preserve our natural resources and environment and allowing us to be part of the process of education and conservation.”


David and Tanya James