Local youth help fix camping areas

Southwest Conservation Corps youth crew programs take place in the summer and promote personal growth, social skills, and an ethic of natural resource stewardship. Photo courtesy SCC

Common Ground grant to SCC helps manage impacts from growing recreation use

Local high school students helped address the impacts of growing recreation in camping areas like Fourmile and Raspberry Gulch, as Chaffee Common Ground invested in a Southwest Conservation Corps project in 2020 with youth and young adult conservation crews.

The Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) was awarded $80,000 to harvest up to 30 acres of trees and construct up to four miles of buck-and-rail fencing to contain about 75 campsites in Chaffee County. Buck-and-rail is a three-dimensional or A-frame fence that provides a natural-looking, visual designation for visitors to follow, containing campsites to limit plant degradation and soil erosion into waterways. Fencing also helps control the number of people using an area.  

Chaffee County high school students applied for youth crews and completed some of the work in 2020, which included restoration and fence construction. SCC combines physical work projects with education about conservation-field career opportunities, as well as lessons on team building, leadership and civic engagement. Programs promote personal growth, the development of social skills, and an ethic of natural resource stewardship. Watch a video about what it’s like when high school students work with SCC.

This project supported community wildfire risk reduction by dismantling large campfire rings and thinning thick stands of lodgepole pine to create fence material. Buck-and-rail is durable and easier to install because posts do not have to be placed in the ground and the fence can be repaired by section. Project locations were assigned by the U.S. Forest Service Salida Ranger District with input from Envision Recreation in Balance, a community-driven planning program that works to maintain healthy forests, waters and wildlife in balance with outdoor recreation.

Read more Stories of Impact from Chaffee Common Ground