Hiking Badger Mountain has become one of the most popular outings in the Tri-Cities, thanks to a dedicated group that's not content to wait for government action.
In an era when governments at every level are struggling just to maintain existing services, Friends of Badger Mountain has found ways for the private sector to fill some of the gap.
The group's efforts to preserve open spaces have improved the quality of life for thousands of Mid-Columbia residents.
Whether you're a mountain climber in training carrying a weighted backpack, part of a family looking for some fresh air at a leisurely pace or one of those crazy people who run up the trail, odds are you've already discovered Badger Mountain.
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The trail saw more than 100,000 ascents by mid-October of last year.
That's a great thing. We need a place where people feel comfortable getting outside and finding a connection with our landscape. We want people to challenge themselves and hike up the hill to take in the view. Having a healthy population with an appreciation of the region's natural beauty is an asset for our community.
And the Badger Mountain Preserve just grew by 48 acres, making the total 647 acres.
The Friends of Badger Mountain have been busy, to say the least. The new land will allow them to extend the trail system to the south side of the mountain and expand public access.
The land will be turned over to Benton County, just as the rest of the preserve has been. The Friends of Badger will be its caretakers.
The former owners of the recently acquired parcels had planned to use the land for housing developments, but problems with access made that improbable. That gave the Friends of Badger a favorable position in the negotiating process.
We applaud the group's members for their tireless efforts to purchase land to expand the preserve. The area has given Tri-Citians a new outlet for outdoor activities and a new place for folks to experience the beauty of our rivers and fields and vistas.
Anytime we catch a glimpse of the ridge they helped preserve, we're reminded of how much can be accomplished through the hard work and perseverance of dedicated individuals.
If you want to find out more about the plans for the preserve, the Friends of Badger Mountain has scheduled its annual meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 29 at Goose Ridge Winery, 16304 N. Dallas Road in Richland, near the Badger Mountain trailhead.