Youth Corps reshapes landscape in burned area

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A Mile High Youth Corps crew recently carried out critical wildfire recovery work on a San Isabel conservation property burned in the 2016 Junkins Fire.

The crew accomplished a tremendous amount of work in late May and early June on Jack and Kathi Thomas' conservation property. The crew used materials on site to build an extensive series of erosion-control barriers and redirect water flow in an area damaged by heavy rains last summer.

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This fall, a crew will remove unhealthy trees to improve wildlife habitat and reduce wildfire risk on Music Meadows Ranch. The crews will use removed trees to build erosion-control structures in erosion-prone areas on the ranch.

The crews are being paid through two $18,000 grants from Great Outdoors Colorado.

At the Thomas property near Wetmore, crews also planted new trees. The work reduces safety hazards and will kickstart habitat recovery for the area’s abundant wildlife species.

GOCO awards youth corps funding through the Colorado Youth Corps Association, a statewide coalition of nine accredited youth corps that engage and train youth, young adults and veterans (ages 14 to 25) to work on land and water conservation projects.

Corps members earn a stipend for their full-time service and an AmeriCorps education award to use toward college or reducing existing student loans. About 1,700 young people participate annually.

Youth corps projects also include educational and professional development opportunities for corps members. Local agency partners will discuss relevant career paths, such as forest management, emergency management, and search and rescue.

To date, GOCO has invested $6.4 million in projects in Custer County and helped protect more than 12,400 acres in the county. GOCO funded Westcliffe’s Memorial park and Silver Cliff’s town park, and a GOCO grant helped conserve Music Meadows Ranch in 2008.

GOCO invests a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces. Its independent board awards competitive grants to local governments and land trusts, and makes investments through Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Created when voters approved a Constitutional Amendment in 1992, GOCO has since funded more than 5,000 projects in all 64 counties of Colorado without any tax dollar support. Visit GOCO.org for more information.

 

Photos ©2018 Greg Smith

 

Janet Smith

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  • “Because San Isabel is pro-agriculture, we were able to work closely with them to craft the contract we felt comfortable with. It allows us to capture revenue off the land while still living on it and maintaining full autonomy of ownership.”

    – Elin Parker Ganschow, Music Meadows Ranch and Sangres Best