The Yakima Canyon
Kids won’t remember their best day of television.
A butterfly landing on a nose, a fish caught with a handmade pole, or a first overnight in a tent away from home. These are the stories and experiences that will be told to friends, spouses, and children for a lifetime. Memories made at the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center will last a lifetime, and you can be part of making that vision a reality. With a backdrop graced with restored native grasslands, colonies of quaking aspen, stately Ponderosa pine, and miles of trail, the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center will be a destination for bringing people together to learn about and immerse themselves in nature.
Though Washington is known as the evergreen state, the Yakima River Canyon is nestled lovingly in the shrub-steppe ecoregion with rainfall so scarce that trees are hard-pressed to persist. The native habitats in this region are subtle, diverse, and highly endangered. With the highest density of passerines in the state and wandering big horn sheep, it is a wildlife-watchers dream. Nesting birds of prey, a vitally important salmonid nursery, ancient basalt lava flows, and timeless Native American history all make the Canyon a remarkable place.
The Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center (The Center) will celebrate and share this special place with the world.
The Center is the gateway to the 26-mile-long Yakima River Canyon Scenic Byway. The Center is inextricably tied to the Canyon with its endangered shrub-steppe habitat, wildlife communities, stunning landscapes, and vital recreational opportunities.
Approximately 10 million years ago the ridges and valleys of the Yakima Canyon fold belt started to form. This area was pressured simultaneously from the north and south causing it to be wrinkled like a table cloth being pushed together. As the ridges rose at the rate of a few inches per millennium, the Yakima River kept down-cutting its channel to maintain its established course. After a million years of uplift and simultaneous erosion, the river’s meandering course is now deeply entrenched. The shrub-steppe habitat that arose on the hillsides with a combination of acidic soils and low rainfall, is one of the world’s richest ecosystems and supports a wide variety of animal and plant life.
The future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center rests on the ancestral lands of the fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. The people of the Yakama Nation inhabited more than 12 million acres across Central Washington. We honor those native peoples who are tied to the land through history, legends, and culture. We acknowledge their descendants who live in the world today. We thank the caretakers of this land, who have lived here and continue to live here since time immemorial.
The Yakima River Canyon is a special place and you can ensure your legacy by supporting this effort. KEEN is now seeking partnerships with legacy donors to establish construction funding and a permanent endowment. More details about the project and naming opportunities can be found below. Please be in touch with Jill Scheffer, our Board President, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 509-551-8807.
An Important Recognition
The future home of the Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center rests on the ancestral lands of the fourteen Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation. The people of the Yakama Nation inhabited more than 12 million acres across Adams, Benton, Chelan, Douglas, Franklin, Grant, Kittitas, Klickitat, and Yakima Counties. We honor those native peoples who are tied to the land through history, legends, and culture. We acknowledge their descendants who live in the world today. We thank the caretakers of this land, who have lived here and continue to live here since time immemorial. An acknowledgment is a simple, powerful way to show respect, and a step toward correcting the stories and practices that erase Indigenous people’s history and culture. It also honors the truth. As an organization, KEEN is committed to building our relations with the Yakama Nation.
Our Business Plan
With over 1.5 million people passing by, the YCIC will be a destination for meetings, special events, and educational programming.
This project represents an unparalleled opportunity to engage visitors and community members of all ages in outdoor education, draw tourists to Central Washington, undertake environmental stewardship and habitat restoration, and accomplish protection of the endangered shrub-steppe biome.
The Yakima River Canyon
The First Scenic Byway
The Yakima River Canyon is its own unique landscape. Linear oases supporting vital riparian corridors in this time of climate change. With the highest density of passerines in the state and wandering big horn sheep, it is a wildlife-watchers dream. Nesting birds of prey, endangered plants and animals, economically-important Yakima River trout fishery and salmonid nursery, visible basalt lava flows, and rich Native American history all make the Canyon a distinct place. These stories and themes engage us and keep us working to protect the future of the Yakima River Canyon. The Yakima Canyon Interpretive Center (The Center) will celebrate and share this special place with the world.
18 Years of Habitat and Recreation Improvements
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Helen McCabe State Park
Dr. Helen McCabe's Legacy
“As I read your note, the memory of my mother's interest and passion in developing and encouraging the recreational potential of central Washington jumps up. Seeing others active, involved, and most of all having fun outdoors, was so much of what made her life meaningful. The joy she felt in watching others have fun, myself my brother and the many family, friends and students, we all found a confirmation in her enthusiasm for the outdoors and the joy it so richly returns to those of us who venture out. This little park and the anticipated interpretive center is a wonderful expression of what meant so much to her”. Ross McCabe, Dr. Helen McCabe's son.