With nearly 100 staff members, the Philmont conservation department is likely one of the largest such groups employed by a private landowner!

Who May Participate?

Although there was no official Conservation Department until 1971, roving trail crews developed shortly after the great flood of 1965. Beginning with only a dozen or so staff members in 1971, Philmont’s Conservation Department took up the daunting task of maintaining and expanding Philmont’s vast trail and camp network. LEARN MORE


The Conservation Department ensures that every camper and staff member has access to suitable campsites via a network of sustainable trails and is responsible for the management and maintenance of Philmont’s recreational and natural resources. LEARN MORE  


The Conservation Department is overseen by a seasonal Conservation Director. The Director assists each of the program areas in every way possible to ensure that the Conservation Department provides a safe and enjoyable backcountry experience for all Philmont participants. The Conservation Director’s responsibilities include managing personnel, planning and implementing projects as well as logistical support. There are six distinct groups under the Conservation Director that work on different aspects of the department’s mission. LEARN MORE

What exactly gets accomplished in 3 hours?

In order for campers to receive the Arrowhead Award and receive their patches, they must complete three hours of conservation work under the supervision of a Philmont Conservationist. The projects that participants get the opportunity to work on vary from trail building to erosion control to meadow encroachment to habitat restoration. The participants’ work is vital to the overall maintenance of the Ranch. LEARN MORE

Geographic Information Systems

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff is one of the most diverse and specialized departments at Philmont. The GIS staff is responsible for managing the Ranch’s large geodatabases and utilizing the information stored within the geodatabases to create maps. LEARN MORE  

Invasive Species

Like most private landowners in the United States, Philmont began battling invasive weeds decades ago. In 2010, the Ranch hired three seasonal staff members to study and address its specific weed problems. The three specialists are based in the Conservation Department and have laid the groundwork of invasive plant research and control on Philmont Scout Ranch. LEARN MORE

Philmont presently has more than 375 miles of trails that require maintenance, and more trails are created every year. These trails are constructed by Conservation staff, Order of the Arrow Trail Crews, Trail Crew Trek crews and regular trek participants. Sometimes, it is necessary to close off trails that have become unsustainable in order to return the area to its natural state.

South Ponil Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project

The South Ponil Cutthroat Trout Restoration Project is a long-term, cooperative project between Philmont, the Philmont Staff Association and New Mexico Game and Fish that aims to reestablish the native Rio Grande Cutthroat Trout to the South Ponil creek. LEARN MORE

Individual Programs

Order of the Arrow Trail Crew (OATC) is a 14-day individual program that brings Arrowmen together from across the country for a week of trail building followed by a week of trekking. A Foreman and Assistant Foreman share the responsibility of leading the crew and facilitating a unique program for the youth involved. An Associate Director of Conservation and a Coordinator are responsible for training and supporting the Foremen throughout the program. STEM Trek is a 12-day individual co-ed trek that gives participants an up-close look at the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math behind Philmont’s most popular programs. Roving Outdoor Conservation School (ROCS) is a 21-day experience for individuals that combines environmental science, conservation work…and trekking! Trail Crew Trek (TCT) is a 14-day coed program that consists of seven days of trail building followed by seven days of trekking. It is designed to give participants the skills to earn the Hornaday Silver Award, the oldest conservation award in the United States of America. LEARN MORE ABOUT INDIVIDUAL PROGRAMS