It has long been one of my goals to preserve relatively untouched portions of Denton County land as open space for public use as we continue to see significant growth in the coming years.
As one of the fastest-growing counties in the U.S., Denton County’s open space is dwindling at a rapid pace. By 2045, our population could exceed 1.5 million, according to projections from the North Central Texas Council of Governments.
Recently, we had the opportunity to purchase 60 acres of prime natural habitat and open space in the center of Denton County off Copper Canyon Road.
We purchased the property with $6 million in funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), following eligible activities as listed by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. ARPA allows for the acquisition of real property appropriate for the preservation or restoration of historic sites, the beautification of urban land, and the conservation of open spaces, natural resources, and scenic areas to be used for other public purposes.
When we were alerted to the potential of saving this timberland amid an area of major urban development in southern Denton County, we realized the opportunity to preserve it for future generations.
The Briarwood Retreat Center, operated by the Lutheran Ministries and Presbyterians since it opened in 1959 located off 670 Copper Canyon Road, includes an untouched tree canopy and natural wildlife area.
I want us to save this entire forest so future generations can know what the county looked like when I was a kid – filled with post oaks and pecans.
As you enter the camp, a large conference center offers space to seat up to 168 people around tables and even more without tables – perfect for organizational meetings, conferences, luncheons, and workshops.
Just beyond the conference center are open areas where an outdoor pavilion, fire ring, volleyball court, and more are located for team building and other events. In the far back is an archery range.
The property includes a swimming pool and a pond, both of which we anticipate renovating. A large dining hall, several meeting lodges, and several cabins complete the picture of possibilities for future use of this camp.
The idea for the camp is to open it up to Denton County residents for adult retreats, youth camps, employee appreciation events, walking and bicycle trails, and more.
We plan to engage with our AgriLife teams, such as the Master Gardeners and Master Naturalists, to help with the preservation of the open space and native Cross Timbers forest.
We honor the previous owners’ use of the camp for public use and look forward to expanding on what they have been able to offer.
With seven cabins with multiple beds and a two-unit motel-style area with 24 rooms, the property could also be used to house residents affected during a major disaster temporarily.
We plan to get the conference center up and running quickly while we renovate and update the remaining portions of the property over the next few months.
We will keep you posted on our progress and look forward to the many wonderful opportunities that will become available to all Denton County residents soon. To see the camp, check out our video.