Garfield County commissioners urge broad participation in summer Youth Corps | PostIndependent.com

Garfield County commissioners urge broad participation in summer Youth Corps

Staff Report

With projects planned across Garfield County for 2018, the Board of County Commissioners voiced support for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps program this week as they’d like to see as much local youth in the program as possible.

“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,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said in a press release.

“I think third goal includes a greater quality of life for Garfield County residents, and the fourth is tourism,” he said. “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.”

He noted that the program, which provides opportunities for local youth and young adults to take part in regional trail-building and outdoor infrastructure projects, has 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.

In 2018 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, according to the press release.

“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 online.

“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.”

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, states the press release. 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.