Outdoor enthusiasts will soon have a new place to visit – the expanded Round Ball Mountain Conservation Area.The Columbia Land Conservancy owns and manages the Public Conservation Area and is adding 310 acres as well as a significant trail extension to the site.
Site improvements and trail construction will get underway this year. The expanded portion will include a trail that will lead from the woods of the existing conservation area, across a ravine before climbing along a ridge known locally as “Fox Hill”, providing expansive views of the surrounding mountains and valley.
The trail is made possible by the donation of two parcels of land – from Elizabeth Gilmore and from Woody and Saida Baxt. The landowners had previously permanently protected the properties with conservation easements through CLC. Now, they are donating that protected land to CLC, which will manage the property for public recreation and wildlife habitat. The landowners are motivated by the desire to expand public access to scenic lands.
Years ago, when CLC opened the Round Ball Mountain Conservation Area to the public, I thought it was an amazing amenity for this corner of the county. Then I thought how much better it would be if a trail could be developed from there north along the ridge with increased view of the mountains, farmland, and wildlife of our beautiful region.
“Why give away about a third of our dairy farm?” asks Woody Baxt. “By donating our land to the Columbia Land Conservancy, we are ensuring that the public will always have access to this property that links to additional publically accessible lands along a magnificent ridgeline. We consider our family extremely lucky to be able to participate in something like this and leave a legacy we can all be proud of.”
“These properties exemplify many of the qualities that make this county so rich in conservation values,” says Peter Paden, CLC’s Executive Director, “and we are very pleased to include them as part of the Round Ball Mountain Conservation Area. With these generous gifts, the Baxts and Elizabeth Gilmore have once again demonstrated their deep commitment to conservation and to the community, and we are enormously grateful.”