Program good for youth, good for the land

Kooskia, ID, July 25, 2016:  For the fourth consecutive year, 23 young people between the ages of 16 and 18 have summer employment and are gaining valuable natural resource work experience thanks to the Clearwater Basin Youth Conservation Corps (CBYCC) program.

The CBYCC program builds on the familiar Youth Conservation Corps concepts of exposing youth to outdoor work opportunities.  It was initiated in 2013 when the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and Idaho Department of Labor partnered to develop a youth program responsive to legislation authorizing the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP).

Since its inception, 66 young people have participated in the program which is designed to provide employment and training opportunities for youth.  Over that time, crews have been hosted in the communities of Elk City, Grangeville, Kooskia, Kamiah, Orofino and Pierce.

Two five-person youth crews are working in the Kooskia area this summer.  Melanie Martinez is the crew leader for the “Kooskia 1” crew.  Crew members include Kelly Haukedahl, Robert Baker, Kevin Hill, Skyler Olsen and Taylor Pfefferkorn.

Nathaniel Davis leads the “Kooskia 2” crew.  That crew is comprised of Averie Proctor, Josh Kolb, Sam Ward, Savannah Martin and Torrie Pfefferkorn.

Local residents will definitely benefit from work performed by the Kooskia crews who have spruced up popular recreation sites including the Fenn Ranger Station, Lochsa Historical Ranger Station, campgrounds along the Lochsa River and the information kiosk area at the intersection of Highways 13 and 12.  They spent a week working at the National Park Service’s “Heart of the Monster” near Kamiah where they learned the cultural significance of the site.  Work consisted of clearing and mapping trails, clearing unwanted brush, and identifying and mapping weeds throughout the site.  In addition, the crews maintained a pollinator garden near the Musselshell Work Center and performed basic maintenance (cutting brush and cleaning open-tops) on segments of Fog Mountain and Elk City Wagon Roads.  They have mapped trails, pruned and pulled invasive weeds and built a post-and-pole field fence designed to keep cows out of a septic drain field.

Coordinator Tera King said the crews are off to an excellent start.  “We are very pleased with the accomplishments of these crews to date.  They are completing important tasks that land management agencies want to do, but lack the staffing to tackle.  This is definitely a program that adds value, builds a work ethic and gives young people an opportunity to experience many aspects of natural resource management and community service.”

The CBYCC is a true collaborative effort, with the Clearwater Basin Collaborative, Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests, Idaho Department of Labor, Bureau of Land Management, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Park Service, Idaho Firewise, Idaho County and Framing Our Community all contributing to the program.

In addition to Kooskia, crews are being hosted in Grangeville, Orofino and Pierce this summer.

The CBYCC program was recognized as the State of Idaho’s “2015 Outstanding Project” by the Idaho Resource Conservation and Development Association in 2015.  It has received numerous accolades from agencies participating in the program as well as crew members and parents.

Individuals with an interest in the program can track the crews’ work on facebook.com/IdahoCBYCC.  Ideas for 2017 crew work projects and/or financial support for the CBYCC program can be submitted to http://www.clearwaterrcd.org/.

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