The Rocky Mountain Conservancy Conservation Corps recently marked its 20th anniversary by fielding the largest crew and accomplishing its most ambitious work program in its history.
Working with National Park Service and National Forest Service counterparts, the 54-member corps improved some of the most popular recreational resources in Colorado. Projects in Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) and the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests include:
- Maintaining 295.4 miles of trails and clearing 1,150 drainage structures
- Building six bridges and 640 feet of new trail
- Constructing three rock retaining walls, two rock staircases, and a climbing access trail across a talus field in the Indian Peaks Wilderness
- Restoring the Holzwarth Historic Site on RMNP’s west side, including raising and stabilizing the cabin’s foundation, installing new roof and siding, and reconstructing the woodshed and fencing
- Removing 657 hazardous trees, with 18 members earning crosscut certifications
- Clearing 160 acres of invasive plant species and working in Rocky’s greenhouse nursery
- Removing 12 illegal campsites
- Constructing burn piles with the NPS fire crew
“In addition to being an integral part of the park’s trail maintenance program, the Conservation Corps assisted the park crew with repairs to the Longs Peak Trail,” said Doug Parker, Rocky’s Trails Program supervisor. “Corps members installed riprap pavers in the high alpine region to mitigate erosion and stabilize trail tread for the more than 40,000 visitors that use the trail in the busy summer season.”
The Rocky Mountain Conservancy-Conservation Corps offers young adults from across the country (aged 18-30) the opportunity to work outdoors for the summer in some of America’s most stunning public lands. The program provides skills training, professional development, and the opportunity to explore careers in conservation. Participants receive uniforms, stipends, and rustic housing. The program is funded by Conservancy donors and major grants from the National Park Foundation.
Success is measured not just in projects completed, but also in the effect on participants and future potential public land stewards like Kiran Johnson, who participated in this past summer’s corps.
“The insight into conservation and the respect for nature that I gained from experiencing pure wilderness changed my perspective,” Johnson recently wrote about his time in the Rawah Wilderness. “Working deep in the backcountry where the forests felt untouched struck me with a sense of urgency: I want everyone to be able to experience nature in this way.”
With another successful season in the books, the Rocky Mountain Conservancy has already begun planning for the 2024 summer season. Information on next year’s program and application procedures are available at www.RMConservancy.org.
“The Conservation Corps is one of the Rocky Mountain Conservancy’s flagship programs because it educates and inspires our next generation of land stewards,” said Executive Director Estee Rivera. “I encourage everyone with young adults in their lives to share information on this opportunity with them. The work is hard but the new skills, life experience, camaraderie, and time spent in Colorado’s amazing wilderness are priceless.”
To support, visit www.RMConservancy.org and donate to the Conservation Corps Fund.