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College trustees ask for Camp Aldrich committee
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Here is a link to this month's agenda and some of the materials presented at the Barton Community College Board of Trustees study session. This also leads to a link containing one report on Camp Aldrich.

Editor’s note: This is the final story in a series about the Camp Aldrich Feasibility Study commissioned by Barton Community College.



Barton Community College trustee Robert Feldt said Thursday that the college’s Camp Aldrich conference area needs to take its place in the area ecotourism movement. He asked Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman to assemble a committee to determine the mission of the facility, which is situated on 290 acres between Claflin and the Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Refuge.

Feldt’s comments came during the trustees’ monthly study session, where no official board action is taken. He said he has read the reports on needed improvements at Camp Aldrich and on the feasibility of finding new ways to make the camp profitable again. "I believe this is a time of opportunity for the college," he said. "There is a lot going on with this tremendous asset in our community."

The International Ecotourism Society defines ecotourism as: "Responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment and improves the well-being of local people." Among other projects, area communities have worked to establish the Wetlands and Wildlife Scenic Byway, connecting Cheyenne Bottoms and Quivira National Wildlife Refuge — two Ramsar Wetlands of International Importance.

"Ecotourism development capitalizes on the unique situation of Cheyenne Bottoms," Feldt said. "Camp Aldrich must claim its role within the ecotourism environment." He suggested President Heilman form a committee made up of people from surrounding communities, and to include Cris Collier from the Great Bend Convention & Visitors Bureau. A college trustee should also be on the committee, he said.

"Camp Aldrich is situated very favorably to play a role in this environment," Feldt said. "The committee should be charged with determining a mission of how it should be done."

Trustee Mike Johnson said the committee is "a great idea." Heilman said he will write a "guiding document" for a committee and try to have it ready for the board’s approval in July.

"The college doesn’t have several million dollars to put in that facility," Johnson said of Camp Aldrich. "As we all know, it’s going to come down to cost."