|What do 1 Chairlift, 100 Flamingos and 26.2 Miles Equal? A "Win" for Steamboat!
Nathan Allen, an AmeriCorps VISTA development associate with Partners in Routt County of Steamboat Springs, can report a successful year of service, no matter how you add it up. Among many other achievements, he was instrumental in launching a new fundraiser, Flock-a-Friend, and raising awareness for the Partners mission. For this fundraiser, Partners “sold” 50 pink plastic flamingos in sets of 15 and placed (or flocked) them at homes and businesses around town to promote Partners and National Mentoring Month.
Because all of the flocks were booked weeks in advance, community members donated 50 more flamingos, allowing Partners to double its sales and visibility. The event concluded with the flocks landing under a chairlift at the Steamboat Ski Resort. Partners raised more than $1,000 with the flamingos, up from $200 raised during National Mentoring Month in previous years – and there is already a wait list for 2014!
Nathan is not only a star at Partners, he had an extraordinary personal accomplishment during his year of service. On June 2, Nathan won his very first marathon, the Steamboat Springs Marathon. “It’s huge. It means a lot to me, to be able to come out here for my first marathon. I am so blessed,” Nathan said. Read more about the race.
Nathan feels he has become very connected to the community during his VISTA term and has signed up for another year of service through AmeriCorps with the School Based Mentors Program in Steamboat. CYCA’s Good Works for Youth VISTA program has 20 VISTA members placed at 14 nonprofit sites throughout the state.
Photo 1: Nathan Allen raised awareness for Partners in Routt County at "Flock-a-Friend"
Photo 2: Nathan Allen won his first marathon. Photo credit: Joel Reichenberger/Steamboat Today
Collaboration is Key for Large-Scale Dolores River Restoration Partnership
Plant or animal? When talking about tamarisk, the answer is yes! And this invasive beast (which really is a plant, for those who are unfamiliar) is threatening the Dolores River. The Dolores originates in the beauty of the San Juan Mountains in southwest Colorado, flowing from the alpine vistas of Lizard Head Pass through desert canyons to Utah, where it meets the Colorado River near Historic Dewey Bridge. And conservation corps are working to keep the river beautiful.
Like many rivers in the West, the Dolores has been degraded by a variety of factors contributing to a host of ecological issues – tamarisk infestation in particular. One hundred and seventy-five miles of the Dolores below McPhee Reservoir are impacted by tamarisk and other invasive plants that adversely affect the diversity and function of riparian habitat. Tamarisk trees out-compete native vegetation, reduce the diversity of wildlife habitat, increase the risk of wildfire intensity, armor river banks, increase soil salinity, and decrease access for wildlife and recreationists to the river.
To address the growing impacts of invasive vegetation, a group of stakeholders initiated the Dolores River Restoration Partnership (DRRP) in 2009 with a shared vision and the ambitious goal of restoring the riparian corridor of the Dolores River. It’s a massive undertaking, but with all partners pulling (or revving their chainsaws) together, it’s achievable.
DRRP, recognized two years in a row as a model for the Department of the Interior’s America’s Great Outdoors River Initiative, comprises numerous partners including local, state and federal agencies, youth and conservation corps, nonprofit organizations, private landowners, foundations, local businesses and volunteers.
Western Colorado Conservation Corps, Southwest Conservation Corps and Utah’s Canyon Country Youth Corps are the primary implementation partners for the DRRP and have engaged more than 150 leaders, members and interns from diverse backgrounds in restoration efforts since 2009. Daniel Oppenheimer, restoration coordinator for the Tamarisk Coalition, is impressed by what he sees from conservation corps. “Every time I’m out with a corps crew, I’m truly amazed by their level of teamwork, clear communication and good humor. There is much to be learned from the corps program and, on the Dolores, much to appreciate for all their enhancements of these important riparian corridors,” he said.
The conservation crews train collaboratively to prepare members for the rigors of tamarisk treatment, fencing, planting and associated restoration activities. These young people have dedicated more than 50,000 hours to restoration projects, clearing hundreds of acres of tamarisk, building miles of fencing, caging countless cottonwoods and planting hundreds of native species. Jake Lee, who served on a 2012 Dolores River Restoration crew, remarked, “I have seen my fellow crew members grow physically stronger, fitter, healthier, more agile and mentally tougher – and more confident, determined, resilient, adaptable and eager to overcome challenges without hesitation.”
All corpsmembers receive two weeks of training in chainsaw use, herbicide application, restoration ecology, plant identification, purpose of the partnership and career paths in public lands management. At the completion of the season, members leave with an AmeriCorps Education Award ($77,000 earned to date) for use at a college or trade school, or for student loans. Many corpsmembers have even moved up to become interns or crewleaders, or have secured seasonal or full-time positions with land management agencies.
“This initiative is collaborative conservation at its best! The meshing of conservation and social goals has benefits well beyond restoration alone, and it shows in every member engaged,” said Mike Wight, Southwest Conservation Corps’ Corps River Restoration director. And tackling an infestation of this magnitude – whether plant or animal – is only possible with strong collaboration. The DRRP model is being replicated throughout the Southwest.
Photo 1: Members apply learned techniques regarding safe chainsaw use, tamarisk treatment and biomass management. Jacob W. Frank/Four Corners School of Outdoor Education
Photo 2: Daniel Oppenheimer of the Tamarisk Coalition presents at a DRRP training. Photo credit: Jacob W. Frank/Four Corners School of Outdoor Education
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Great Outdoors Colorado Announces $500,000 for Youth Corps Projects
Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) and CYCA have announced that an RFP will be available Aug. 1, 2013 for $500,000 in GOCO/Lottery funds for awards to local government and open space organizations to hire youth conservation corps. The RFP can be found at www.CYCA.org and will be similar to prior years. The application deadline is Sept. 27, 2013. Successful projects will be announced in December 2013 and crews will complete the proposed work in 2014.
Corps Enjoy Multiple VIP Visits
Save the Date!
July was packed with a number of visits from VIPs who have shown ongoing interest in our work. Corps crews were very proud (if even a bit nervous) to host them!
U.S. Senator Mark Udall visited a Rocky Mountain Youth Corps crew at a project site at Steamboat Lake State Park on July 3. The senator expressed his gratitude for the crew’s hard work on the project and appreciation for their stewardship of the outdoors. “I’m envious that you get to work outdoors and sleep under the stars,” said Udall. We thank Sen. Udall for his stalwart support of conservation corps, and in particular, his recent support for the Public Lands Service Corps Act and the Emergency Watershed Protection program.
Photo: Senator Mark Udall met with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps’ regional conservation corps crew at Steamboat Lake State Park.
On July 2, State Senator Pat Steadman visited a Mile High Youth Corps crew during a Russian olive removal project just south of Lollipop Lake, located at the intersection of Cherry Creek North Drive and Holly Street. Here is an observation by one of the seasonal corpsmembers on the crew:
“When Senator Steadman came to speak with us, everyone was somewhat nervous, double checking, triple checking, and checking yet again all of our safety gear and procedures. Upon arriving at the site, he had a calm smile set on his face, and he seemed intent on the primary focuses of the program, asking questions about how this program has changed our lives in different ways. After a little Q & A he encouraged us to ask him a few questions as well. It only took an inquiry or two to soon realize that this man was no fly-by-the-night senator. He was intelligent, well informed and able to communicate very fluently. I believe that he walked away with good faith that MHYC has continued to change lives in very large ways. As well, I believe that all of us who had the privilege to speak with him walked away with a renewed sense of faith in our civil leaders.”
Photo: Senator Pat Steadman visited a Mile High Youth Corps crew south of Lollipop Lake.
Colorado State Representative Tony Exum visited the Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs at its new office on June 28. He had an opportunity to meet a crew fresh from a Waldo Canyon burn area project – ash and all! View more open house photos.
Photo: State Representative Tony Exum and members of Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs’ Bobcats Chainsaw Crew.
State Representative Pete Lee visited Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs on July 3. The “Wolverines”crew was working on trail restoration in the Blodgett Peak area of the Waldo Canyon burn scar, a project funded by Great Outdoors Colorado, the day of Rep. Lee’s visit.
Photo: Representative Pete Lee visited Mile High Youth Corps-Colorado Springs’ Wolverines crew in Waldo Canyon.
We extend a huge shout-out and thank you to our senators and representatives who have shown such a keen interest in our mission and accomplishments!
2013 Careers in Natural Resources Summit
View the Invitation
What: Join other natural resource professionals and educators to celebrate the recent accomplishments of the Careers in Natural Resources Initiative, identify emerging issues and trends in the sector, and chart the course for the future of the Initiative.
When: August 13, 8:30 am – 12:00 noon
Where: Colorado Parks & Wildlife Hunter Education Building / 6060 Broadway / Denver, CO 80216
Who: Co-hosted by Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education and Colorado Youth Corps Association
RSVP: RSVP at the Colorado Alliance for Environmental Education website by Thursday, August 8