Conservation Department Logo
With nearly 100 staff members, the Philmont conservation department is likely one of the largest such groups employed by a private landowner!
Although there was no official Conservation Department until 1971, roving trail crews developed shortly after the great flood of 1965. Beginning with only a dozen or so staff members in 1971, Philmont’s Conservation Department took up the daunting task of maintaining and expanding Philmont’s vast trail and camp network.
The Conservation Department ensures that every camper and staff member has access to suitable campsites via a network of sustainable trails and is responsible for the management and maintenance of Philmont’s recreational and natural resources.
The Conservation Department is overseen by a seasonal Conservation Director. The Director assists each of the program areas in every way possible to ensure that the Conservation Department provides a safe and enjoyable backcountry experience for all Philmont participants. The Conservation Director's responsibilities include managing personnel, planning and implementing projects as well as logistical support. There are six distinct groups under the Conservation Director that work on different aspects of the department’s mission.
In order for campesr to receive the Arrowhead Award and receive their patches, they must complete three hours of conservation work under the supervision of a Philmont Conservationist. The projects that participants get the opportunity to work on vary from trail building to erosion control to meadow encroachment to habitat restoration. The participants’ work is vital to the overall maintenance of the Ranch.
During the summer of 2002, the Ponil Complex Fire burned more than 28,000 acres on Philmont property. Starting in September of that year, Philmont became proactive in combating the damage cause by the fire and began planning and implementing a forest fire rehabilitation program to impede the devastating effects.
The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff is one of the most diverse and specialized departments at Philmont. The GIS staff is responsible for managing the Ranch’s large geodatabases and utilizing the information stored within the geodatabases to create maps.
Like most private landowners in the United States, Philmont began battling invasive weeds decades ago. In 2010, the Ranch hired three seasonal staff members to study and address its specific weed problems. The three specialists are based in the Conservation Department and have laid the groundwork of invasive plant research and control on Philmont Scout Ranch.
Philmont presently has more than 375 miles of trails that require maintenance, and more trails are created every year. These trails are constructed by Conservation staff, Order of the Arrow Trail Crews, Trail Crew Trek crews and regular trek participants. Sometimes, it is necessary to close off trails that have become unsustainable in order to return the area to its natural state.
The South Ponil Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project is a long-term, cooperative project between Philmont, the Philmont Staff Association and New Mexico Game and Fish that aims to reestablish the native Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout to the South Ponil creek.
The Ponil Creek Restoration Project is a cooperative project between the Vermejo Park Ranch and Philmont Scout Ranch. Gus Holm, the Assistant General manager of Vermejo Park Ranch, started this project with the Cimarron Watershed Alliance in 2008 to restore the Ponil Watershed area to a healthy system. The Ponil Watershed has deteriorated due to the Ponil Complex Fire of 2002, overgrazing by both cattle and elk and erosion from low water stream crossing.
In the fall of 2010, the Conservation department surveyed the Bonito Creek and found that the creek was in need of restoration due to the grazing of cattle. The survey team suggested that enclosures and erosion control structures be built and a monitoring system be established to help return the area to a healthy system.
Roving Outdoor Conservation School (ROCS) , is a 21-day experience 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, the oldest conservation award in the United States of America.
Order of the Arrow Trail Crew (OATC) , 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 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.