Waging war on weeds | PostIndependent.com

Waging war on weeds

Heidi Rice
Post Independent staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Contributed photoA member of the Garfield County work crew employed for the summer with the Western Colorado Conservation Corps tackles a field infested with thistle. The young people on the crew are earning money and scholarship funds for college.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Jobs are hard to come by these days, but 12 young adults from Garfield County not only got a summer job, they are helping Garfield County clear noxious weeds and maintain a local trail.

The young adults – ranging in age from 18-22 – have been busy since the beginning of July and will continue through August on projects at three work areas.

They are removing noxious weeds, such as thistle, on national forest and private lands up West Mamm Creek and along the Jeanne Golay Trail in Glenwood Springs. And they are doing trail maintenance and corridor clearing work on the Mansfield Trail near Harvey Gap Reservoir.

The program was approved in early June when the Garfield County Commissioners approved an $80,000 project budget in partnership with the Grand Junction-based Western Colorado Conservation Corps.

“We did it for a couple of reasons,” Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said. “We need a group going around to take care of things, and it was also an opportunity to employ some college kids.”

“The idea was that the county was putting money into the local economy to create jobs for kids looking for summer work, and to maintain trails and manage invasive weeds,” said Tamra Allen, Garfield County long range planner.

“One of the restrictions of this program is that all the workers had to be Garfield County residents,” Allen added.

The 12 corps workers are divided in two crews, working 40 hours a week and earning $7.50 to $9 per hour, according to Trevor Wickersham, director of the Western Colorado Conservation Corps. They also earn money from the AmeriCorps Education Awards, a federal grant program.

“The money they earn doesn’t have to be used for education – it’s cash in their pockets,” Allen said. “But one of the benefits of the program is the AmeriCorps money, which can be used for higher education.”

The AmeriCorps scholarships run from $1,100 to $1,450 on top of the worker’s earnings.

“So far, they’ve earned $48,080 for higher education,” Wickersham said.

The WCCC provides the corps members with a uniform, food, water and personal protection equipment.

And along with the monetary earnings, they are learning first aid and CPR, chainsaw safety and use, herbicide application, camping skills, trail construction and maintenance, environmental education and knowledge of Western Colorado environmental issues.

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