Philmont Conservationist gives a tool talk
Philmont Scout Ranch has six operational groups, each working on specialized aspects of our overall mission.
The Field Manager, together with two Field Coordinators, is tasked with providing technical oversight for all projects in the department. This includes all new trail surveys and continued training to department staff. In addition, the Field Management group maintains the department’s equipment and tools. All three work with every other program group in the department to ensure that things keep running smoothly.
There are usually 18 Conservationists spread evenly between six work sites throughout Philmont Scout Ranch. They are overseen by an Associate Director of Conservation and, together, this group of people runs the Camper Conservation Program. Each crew is required to complete three hours of conservation work at one of these sites during the course of their trek. A Lead “Ist” (short for “conservationist”) is chosen for each site. The lead Ist works with the other two Ists to provide crews with a productive and educational conservation experience. The work completed by both participants and the Ists at these sites varies, and can include trail-building, erosion control, meadow encroachment and habitat restoration. All are vital to the overall maintenance of Philmont Scout Ranch.
Five staff Work Crews perform the bulk of Philmont’s campsite and trail maintenance. Each crew contains about five people, one of whom is designated Foreman. An Associate Director of Conservation provides logistical and technical support to the work crews. These crews are generally sent on mobile runs with specific maintenance objectives. Work crews are also expected to perform routine trail and camp maintenance tasks in addition to their scheduled runs. The Foreman prioritizes comprehensive maintenance projects as they are discovered and changes the crew’s itinerary as necessary to keep the backcountry infrastructure safe and functional.
The Environmental Education program is made up of Roving Outdoor Conservation School Instructors and Trail Crew Trek Foremen. A single individual often will serve in both these capacities over the course of a summer. They are overseen, trained and supported by an Associate Director of Conservation and the EE Coordinator.
The Roving Outdoor Conservation School (ROCS) is a 21-day period for individuals that combines environmental science, conservation work and trekking.
Trail Crew Trek (TCT) is a 14-day coed program that consists of seven days of trail-building followed by seven days of trekking. It is designed to give participants the skills to earn the Hornaday Silver Award, which is the oldest conservation award in the United States of America.
Order of the Arrow Trail Crew is a 14-day individual program that brings Arrowmen together from across the country for a week of trail-building followed by a week of trekking. A Foreman and an Assistant Foreman share the responsibility of leading the crew and facilitating a unique program for the youth involved. An Associate Director of Conservation and a Coordinator are responsible for training and supporting the foremen throughout the program.
The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is one of the most diverse and specialized branches of the Conservation Department! The GIS staff manages Philmont Scout Ranch's expansive geodatabases and uses that information to create and update maps. GIS is a tool that combines spatial information with attribute data. At Philmont, we mainly use our GIS program to create the sectional, overall and campsite maps. However, mapping is just the tip of the iceberg. The amount of public and private entities using GIS for natural resource management is growing rapidly, and the possibilities for explored expansions are almost endless. Our program usually consists of only two or three staff members working under the guidance of the GIS Coordinator. This group updates campsite and navigational map data almost as soon as it changes. This allows for us to print new, up-to-date maps every one to three years.
The Sustainability Program is relatively new in Philmont's Conservation Department. This program develops and implements the best management practices for the Ranch’s resources. While this includes promoting and practicing the “Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle” philosophy across the Ranch, this program also “thinks outside the box” by developing new methods to conserve resources, bringing about progressive changes to the way Philmont uses its resources, researching new sustainability methods and partnering with outside groups and agencies so everyone can work together to be more sustainable.
The Invasive Species Program was formed in 2010 and is charged with providing additional manpower and coordination to Philmont’s noxious weed control efforts. In addition to the monitoring and control of noxious weeds, the goals of the program also include education, awareness, coordination and partnership with nearby landowners. It is currently funded by a grant from the New Mexico Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources Department.