Camping at Benton Hot Springs with ESLT

This past weekend in historic Benton Hot Springs, ESLT hosted a member appreciation campout and guided walk on one of our easements to thank all our supporters. We had a fabulous time soaking in the idyllic hot tubs under a star-filled sky, singing along with talented local bluegrass band Idle Hands, and roasting s’mores around the campfire. With a spry breeze keeping the record-setting heat at bay, the evening turned out to be very enjoyable; great food and festivities, and even greater people, made the event a success all around.

The campout featured many memorable moments. Saturday evening, Bill Bramlette – whose family has owned property in Benton since the 1920’s – shared some fascinating stories about the history of Benton. Another weekend highlight was our raffle drawing for Vern Clevenger’s print of North Lake Skyline; ESLT member Karen Licher – who happened to be in attendance at the event – was thrilled to be our lucky winner! The following morning, a large group of our members had the opportunity to explore the Benton Hot Springs Ranch Conservation Easement, just up the road from the Hot Springs. Throughout the walk, novice and experienced birders alike kept their binoculars handy for up-close views of the many bird species that call the ponds home this time of year. On a high point overlooking the ponds, Bill Bramlette discussed the history and the boundaries of the easement, and local fish and wildlife expert Steve Parmenter shared details about the ongoing restoration project on the property. Thanks to everyone who attended, and – for those who couldn’t make it – we hope to see you next time around!

We want to extend a sincere thank-you to Bill and Diane Bramlette, proprietors of the Inn at Benton Hot Springs and our event co-hosts. They opened up their beautiful B&B and campground to us for the weekend, and were instrumental in making it a success. Additionally, we would also like to thank our ESLT board members for their substantial role, both in organizing the campout and assisting our staff at the event. At the campout, we also bid farewell to outgoing board member Heather DeBethizy; thanks to Henry Means of Henry Means Sculptured Metal for crafting her stunning parting gift. Thanks to Jennifer Orr and her company, Glass Onion Catering, for providing the delicious dinner Saturday night, and the pastries on Sunday morning. Thanks also to Mammoth Brewing Company and Sonoma Wine Company, who generously donated libations for our event.

This campout was the final event of our membership drive, which officially ends on June 21. We’re just 3 members away from reaching our goal of 50 new members, so please spread the word and help us succeed! If you’re not a member, please consider joining us by visiting our website today. If you’re already involved, remember: if you refer a new member during our membership drive, you’re also entitled to receive a free copy of our new film, Valleys and Vistas!

Did you attend the campout with camera in hand? If so, send us your pictures at! We will be updating this blog post throughout this week and next as the photos roll in, so keep an eye out for yours.