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.

Cindy Dunbar Customer Service and Administration Cowiche Canyon Conservancy Yakima WA

Cindy Dunbar

Customer Service
and Administration

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 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

Cal Blethen


Nate Gilbert

Vice President

Betsy Nagle-McNaughton


Bill Bosch


Ted Gamlem

 Past President

Leigh Anderson

Tim Franks

Nate Fulton

Talia Ibargüen

Lisbeth Kaplan

Amy Matthews

Colleda Monick

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