A fundraising effort is currently underway by the Wickenburg (Ariz.) Trails Advisory Commission to establish an equestrian campground at the town-owned “borrow pit.”
The 153-acre pit is adjacent to the Hassayampa River and is located near Jack Burden Road. The planned campground is expected to utilize about 25 acres, according to the Wickenburg Sun.
Councilman Scott Stewart, the Wickenburg Town Council liaison to the commission, said the commission has recently reached out to the equestrian community, but says the commission needs help from all residents of Wickenburg, located northwest of Phoenix.
“Trail riding, as well as mountain biking and hiking by foot, stimulates our local economy … so fixing our trails and creating an equestrian campground is beneficial for everyone,” Stewart said. “Right now we need to raise money to get the campground built, to produce our master trails map and to mark the trails.”
A site design is being drawn up for the campground, and Stewart said the commission has enough money to pay for that portion of the overall project. More money and other resources are needed, however, for the actual construction of the campground and for the production of the master trails map.
“There are several ways the community can help us get this done,” Stewart said. “We need cash donations, we need individual trail maps so that we can interconnect Wickenburg’s entire trail system into one map, and we need easements from private property owners.”
Stewart said there are a number of private properties in Wickenburg with trails that go through them, and that riders use these trails on a regular basis. The problem, Stewart said, is when these property owners move and the new owner fences out the riders.
“Private property owners can donate these easements to the Wickenburg Conservation Foundation in order for these trails to remain open to riders,” Stewart said. “By donating a small easement, these trails will be kept open in perpetuity.”
Stewart said the commission had identified 10 trailheads in the area, and it is the commission’s goal to interconnect the entire system. He said the master trails map, even when completed, will remain an ongoing project. The campground will be an ongoing project for quite some time as well.
“We would like to build 80 overnight campsites and about 20 sites for day use only,” Stewart said. “Each site would be about a quarter of an acre in size, and they would be unimproved sites.”
Stewart said the campground would be built specifically for equestrian use, and that the project would not be funded with sales tax dollars.
“There is a possibility that we might be able to use some dollars from the collection of parks and recreation development fees, but no other tax payer dollars would be used to build or maintain the grounds.”
Stewart said funding would come through grants, private donations and daily fees from campers.
The sites will be large enough to keep horses, trailers and campers together. The proposed cost per day at the campground is $18. Stewart said volunteers would maintain the grounds and collect fees.
“We are looking at this campground as not only an asset to the town, but as a way to bring people to Wickenburg to recreate,” Stewart said. “The campground and a great trail system will benefit not only locals but those who want to come and enjoy Wickenburg for a few days or more.”