From its vast plains to stunning alpine meadows, Philmont Scout Ranch provides a habitat for countless species. The population size and diversity of these species help ensure the continued health of the ecosystems on the Ranch. Humans have impacted these ecosystems for more than a thousand years. At times, these impacts have compromised the land’s ability to support flora and fauna. Sometimes, however, humans' actions have played an essential role in restoring and protecting the land and its inhabitants.
The Ponil Indians settled in the Middle Ponil Canyon for its rich soil and abundant game populations circa 400 A.D.. During the first half of the 19th century, fur traders trapped beavers in the area and sold them to merchants and traders along the Santa Fe Trail. After the discovery of gold in the Baldy Country in 1867, extensive mining and logging began in the area. Efforts to eradicate predators and the introduction of invasive species have also altered the ecosystems of northern New Mexico throughout the past several hundred years.
Philmont Scout Ranch aims to serve as a responsible steward of the land, emphasizing conservation and education. Since its inception, the Ranch has initiated multiple projects to give back to the land. These projects range from reintroducing the threatened Rio Grande cutthroat trout to the South Ponil Creek to mitigating the effects of erosion after the Ponil Complex Fire of 2002. Guided hunts serve as a valuable component of Philmont’s efforts to manage its natural resources. Population surveys, input from New Mexico Game and Fish and wildlife survey information gathered by Philmont participants during their treks inform Philmont of the number of hunting permits the Ranch can make available for game species. This ensures that hunting at the ranch assists in maintaining balanced population levels for game species.