Friends of Badger Mountain reach campaign peak

After nearly two years of fundraising, the Friends of Badger Mountain reached its $1.5 million goal and in February Benton County signed off on a deal to buy nearly 200 acres for the Candy Mountain Preserve.

[blockquote quote=”As an all-volunteer organization, we only succeed in preserving land as open space and for outdoor recreation with the generosity of our supporters.” source=”Sharon Grant, co-founder of Friends of Badger Mountain” align=”right” max_width=”300px”]

The move will create a second ridge preserve on Candy Mountain and allow for a trail link from the west end of the Badger Mountain Centennial Preserve to the summit of Candy Mountain.

“A second open space mountain preserve will help make our area a regional destination for outdoor recreation,” said David Comstock, president of FOBM.

The nonprofit group was formed in 2003 by a group of hikers who wanted to preserve habitat in and around the Tri-Cities.

Since then, the group raise more than $750,000 to buy 647 acres on Badger Mountain, where they built hiking trails. Then they ceded the property to Benton County.

The group’s intention is the same for Candy Mountain.

FOBM partnered with Benton County to receive a $695,000 matching grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. On Feb. 23, the Benton County Commissioners approved the RCO agreement for the matching grant.

Now the nonprofit will finalize purchase and sales agreements with the two landowners for the 195 acres on Candy Mountain. The FOBM will work with the county to start designing and building the new trailhead parking lot, and then design and construct a public trail to the summit. Benton County will become the ultimate owner of the expanded trail systems.

CH2M Hill donated $500,000 toward the project and other significant contributors include Bechtel National, REI and 14 other local businesses. FOBM also received support from the Nomad Trail Runners and the Inter-Mountain Alpine Club, Comstock said.

With the support of its volunteers, the group hopes to have the new trail on Candy Mountain open by fall.

“As an all-volunteer organization, we only succeed in preserving land as open space and for outdoor recreation with the generosity of our supporters,” said Sharon Grant, FOBM co-founder.

More than 200,000 hikers, runners and bikers use the Badger Mountain trails annually.

And, although FOBM reached its fundraising goal for the Candy Mountain trail expansion, continued community support is still needed and appreciated, she added.

“As FOBM is dedicated to creating a system of ridge trails connecting from Amon Basin to the Yakima River in the west, there are several critical links we still need to preserve,” Grant added.

For more information, go to friendsofbadger.org or find them on Facebook.

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