Opportunities abound for Youth Corps in Garfield County
Proposed trail and outdoors projects unveiled for 2018
March 22, 2018
GARFIELD COUNTY, CO – Garfield County is again supporting the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps program, which provides opportunities for local youth and young adults to take part in regional trail-building and outdoor infrastructure projects. Three crews will again take on numerous projects in 2018, and participants, ages 14-25, are being urged to take part.
The Youth Conservation Corps partnership program in Garfield County completed its seventh season last October. Six years of that partnership, which was first initiated by the BOCC with the Youth Conservation Corps in 2011, have been with the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
Proposed projects for the community development crew (ages 14-16), regional service crew (ages 16-18), and Conservation Corps (ages 18-25) are planned for local outdoor areas and on public lands, including in Rifle Mountain Park, parks in Battlement Mesa and Parachute, and across the White River National Forest.
“This is a great opportunity for our local youth across many age groups to explore outdoor employment in some of the most scenic areas in the west,” said Garfield County Vegetation Manager Steve Anthony. “You can be a literal ‘trailblazer.’ The work can be hard and physical at times, but the rewards are many.”
He added that older participants on trails crews, and meet certain requirements, can earn up to $1,400 toward their education, through an AmeriCorps stipend. In 2017, $11,976 in education awards were granted to participants. Interested parties can sign up at www.rockymountainyouthcorps.org/ .
“Past Youth Corps members have talked about how the experience for them has been life changing,” Anthony added. “There are many positives to working for the Youth Corps in our county: a great working environment, a sense of public service, ‘trailblazing,’ and you get a paycheck.”
Commissioner Tom Jankovsky noted that the Youth Corps program offers numerous benefits to all residents of Garfield County, including job creation; bolstering tourism; and ensuring a vast trail system for users, especially in the county’s western end.
“We had two goals we set; the first was economic development in work for our youth, and the second is to help out public lands, which are seeing a decrease in their funding,” he said. “I think third goal includes a greater quality of life for Garfield County residents, and the fourth is tourism. We have all these amazing trails, not just for hiking, but also for mountain biking, and that pulls people into our communities and keeps them here a little longer.”
A few highlights of the 2017 efforts include trail maintenance, rock work, drainage repairs, and fence building at Hanging Lake; new construction of switchbacks and maintenance along the “Stairway to Heaven” trail in New Castle; trash clean-up work around the county; rerouting the “Koper’s Trail” in Rifle Mountain Park; and more. Overall, 300 feet of fencing and 316 feet of rock wall was constructed; 4.7 miles of fencing improved and maintained; 1.75 miles of trail built; 128 bags of trash cleaned up; 7.5 miles of trail corridor cleared; 7.6 miles of trail improved; 60 feet of drainage ditch repaired, and much more.
“This is a project that is near and dear to all of us,” said Commissioner John Martin. “We really feel that the young people need to understand what the public lands are for, and how to take care of them.”