$1.5M fundraiser launched by Friends of Badger Mountain

Friends of Badger Mountain is launching a $1.5 million fundraising effort to greatly expand hiking and recreation trails across the ridges surrounding the Tri-Cities.

The Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce will join the group at noon Thursday to mark the launch of the Ridge Preservation and Trail Campaign.

The public is invited to attend the event at Badger Mountain Canyon trailhead in Richland at the top of Queensgate Drive, off Keene and Shockley roads.

The groups plan to announce a major corporate sponsor of the campaign.

The goal of the fundraiser is to create a trail that connects from Amon Creek across four ridges -- Little Badger, Badger, Candy and Red mountains to the Yakima River.

"The campaign will help us purchase 205 acres on Candy Mountain -- a critical link in being able to create a connecting trail system," said Bob Bass, Friends of Badger Mountain president.

Other elements of the vision include working with vineyard owners on Red Mountain to create a trail to nearby wineries. Combined with existing donated land on Little Badger and Badger, the group hopes to create a contiguous 20-mile trail system.

"We have 200,000 hikers, runners and bikers who annually enjoy the trails on Badger," said Sharon Grant, co-founder and past president of the group. "It's time to expand that trail across all four ridges so our community can truly appreciate our spectacular vistas and preserve habitat unique to each ridge."

Donations can be made at www.friendsofbadger.org and at the Badger Mountain trailheads.