2018 is a landmark for the newly named Backcountry Outdoor Center, our hub of programs located on Ron King Trail just east of Santa Fe Drive. While the Horse Corrals and Base Camp have existed since 2016, the addition of a first-class archery range and 3D archery range right between the Horse Corrals and Base Camp—which is under construction and due to open in June—make this area of the Backcountry the center of the opportunities we offer to our community to experience the Backcountry Wilderness Area.
Base Camp is home to Camp Backcountry, our full-day youth camps, and hosts some of our annual events such as The Big Help, the Backcountry Shindig, and the Backcountry BBQ. The majority of our nature programs that include preschool-age experiences, nature hikes, campfire hikes, bird hikes, as well as our horse-drawn hayrides with Bella and Buster also begin at Base Camp. The Horse Corrals have expanded and offer pony rides for preschool-age kids, trail rides for the age 7+ set, full-day and week-long horse camps as part of Camp Backcountry, and a multitude of other classes and lessons throughout the year.
Since 2010, when the first programs were offered in the Backcountry, gross revenue has grown from $50,000 to close to $500,000 in 2018. While it may seem contradictory, as our program offerings have exploded in the past nine years, we are actually having less of an impact on wildlife and habitat on the narrowed footprint of our diverse programs. The vast majority of our programs take place in the Backcountry Outdoor Center area. The majority of the remaining Backcountry property is reserved for the benefit of wildlife to have a place with limited human disturbance. We’ve also made great strides in habitat improvement through efforts and additional funding from our one-year-old 501c3 nonprofit, the Backcountry Conservation & Education Fund. Aggressive noxious weed treatment, brush clearing and fire mitigation, forest management, and water development have been our focus. We know it is working because the elk are more abundant and healthier than ever, the turkey population has tripled in size, and the native vegetation is thriving.
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