Plans for Camp Borrego Explained During Public Meeting
Last updated 9/23/2021 at 10:34am
An exciting plan to create a permanent Camp Borrego facility that could also be used by the community was unveiled last week during a public meeting hosted by the Anza-Borrego Foundation.
About 30 people attended in person or via online conferencing.
Primarily designed as a permanent overnight facility for students and families, the camp could also serve the community as a venue for park programs, educational events, camping or social gatherings.
The camp is the vision of Anza-Borrego Foundation, in partnership with the state park, Borrego Village Association and Borrego Valley Endowment Fund.
Bri Fordem, ABF Executive Director, said the public meeting was designed to get community input as detailed plans for the facility are being developed.
“Our priority is to create a facility to continue our Camp Borrego youth education program, but this is also something that can be an asset to our community,” Fordem said.
Planning for the camp began several years ago when safety concerns halted the youth education program during efforts to expand the existing camp. Camp Borrego began in 2003 and has introduced thousands of youngsters to the mystery and beauty of the desert.
“We want to continue that and make sure there is a next generation that appreciates this unique natural environment,” Fordem said.
ABF directors wanted to continue the camp that provided an overnight experience for 5th grade students from schools in Imperial, Riverside and San Diego counties. Funds were committed for planning and designing a more permanent camp that was previously held in tents or Mongolian yurts and gers, and grants have been sought to help with funding.
During a three-day, two-night camp experience, students had a chance to meet with park rangers, environmental scientists and learn about park archeology, botany, paleontology, and biology while enjoying hikes and desert exploration.
Tentative design plans were presented by a representative of the Spurlock Architectural firm working on initial concepts.
As envisioned, the camp would ultimately include six sleeping cabins, each capable of holding six to eight people, an open-air kitchen, outdoor classrooms, a 2,500 square-foot multi-use building, restrooms, Wi-Fi access, an expanded trail network, campfire circle and a terraced outdoor seating area. Cabins would be raised four feet off the ground to protect from flash flooding.
Building design would be sensitive to the cultural and natural contest of the area.
Fordem said the goal is to double camp capacity, provide permanent structures, more programming, increase park access and recreation opportunities for Borrego residents as well as the general public.
She said the camp would likely be built in phases, with three cabins and restrooms part of the first phase targeted for opening to the public in the spring, 2026.
“Depending on grants, it could take up to 10 years to complete the whole project,” she said.
The camp is being proposed at the same location as the original camp, near the Palm Canyon Trailhead, behind the public campground.
Trails would be constructed of compacted, decomposed granite to preserve the natural landscape, but allow for safe and easy hiking, wheelchair access or bicycles.
Public input will be compiled, and a report presented in November for public review.
Those attending last week’s meeting were enthusiastic and supportive about the proposed camp but did ask some hard questions.
Concerns were raised about lighting that could potentially impact the dark night sky that attracts stargazers from around the world.
Night lighting will be limited to stairs and restroom areas and comply with county regulations designed to minimize light pollution.
There was a question from one attendee about events that would conflict with the peace and quiet of camp, such as loud music.
Anza-Borrego State Park Superintendent Ray Lennox said any event proposed for the camp facility that was “outside of normal park activities would require a permit.”