As people get ready to enjoy National Public Lands Day on Sept. 24 in Rocky Mountain National Park and surrounding public lands, Rocky Mountain Conservancy looks to celebrate the successes of its Conservation Corps program from the past season.
In 2016, the Conservancy welcomed 36 youth, ages 18-25, into its Conservation Corps program for a summer of environmental stewardship work, career development, and educational trainings. For eight weeks these young people were spread throughout Northern Colorado on six different crews completing conservation projects in Rocky Mountain National Park and the Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests. Intermixed throughout these weeks in the field, the youth participated in three weeks of leadership training, environmental education, and career development programming to help further each individual’s personal, professional, and academic goals.
In Rocky Mountain National Park, crews worked to protect trails, restore wildlife habitat, and preserve cultural resources. This included maintaining over 100 miles of trail, planting over 8,000 native plant species, restoring three historic buildings, and improving accessibility.
Outside of Rocky Mountain National Park, four crews worked in the surrounding Arapaho-Roosevelt National Forests. Two of these crews worked with the USFS in areas north of Rocky along with Cache le Poudre River, around Red Feather Lakes, and throughout the Rawah Wilderness. In this region, the Corps helped rebuild flood damaged trails, maintain over 80 miles of remote trail systems, and restore areas affected by trail braiding and illegal camping.
On the southern border of Rocky Mountain National Park, two crews completed extensive project work with the USFS to improve recreational access and protect ecosystems along trail corridors. This work included constructing bridges and turnpike sand clarifying trail corridor by removing downed trees in and around the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area on both sides of the continental divide.
All of this work amounted to 11,520 hours of volunteer labor contributed to the National Park Service and USDA Forest Service, providing the equivalent of $270,000 in support to the agencies. Alongside this support, the Conservation Corps worked to develop the next generation of conservationists and promote individual growth. To learn more about the Conservation Corps and other Rocky Mountain Conservancy programs, visit www.rmconservancy.org.