Season Recap of Conservation Program

December 18, 2020 | AmeriCorps, Camping Crew, Community Crew, Conservation, Forestry, State Parks, Trails, Water Quality

In June, 18 young adults arrived at VYCC in June to join summer crews. This fall, several more opportunities came online. Twelve Members from summer crews stayed on to meet a combination of education and employment goals; others joined who put their college education on hold or had completed school and were looking for work.

For details on what Members gained from their experience, you can read about Karli’s experience and Galen’s experience.

What follows is a summary of the remarkable service these young adults provided Vermont and Vermonters. Our access to the outdoors, and the health of our watershed and forests are improved as a result of their hard work.

Trails

Two crews of young adults provided Vermonters with new and improved trails, from Dorset to Rutland to Bristol to Woodbury. In all, they improved access and safety, and protected the natural environment along 8 trails. Emily, Vytas, Julian, Ash, Sam, Lenore, Colby and Helen built puncheon (a 2-plank boardwalk structure), 10 staircases, and 63 drainage features to keep your boots dry, ankles sturdy, and minimize human impact.

PLUS! This fall, thanks to funds from the CARES Act, VYCC was able to offer positions to Sam, Celia,  Angelo, Rafael, Mariah, Ash, Giselle, Isabel, Linden, Emma K and Emma M to work on 11 additional  trails on state land: Stowe (Moss Glen Falls), Plymouth (Coolidge State Park & Forest), Killington (Gifford Woods State Park & Aitken State Forest), and Duxbury (Camel’s Hump).

While we can all see intuitive connections between outdoor recreation and public health, a group of UVM graduate students just put out a terrific study about this! This research underlines the importance of Corps’ Members service to our state.

 

State Parks

Little River, Groton and Elmore State Parks received 2 new footbridges, 5 new mouldering toilets, and repairs to 13 lean-tos. Katie, Miller, Karli, Galen, Bex, Bea, Rachel, Diego, and Mac made up the two crews that completed this great work. They, too, increased Vermonters’ ability to connect with the outdoors.

THEN! Eight of the many Members listed above extended their service and worked as a crew to build 14 kiosks (trailhead signs) for recreation areas on state land.

 

Water Quality

Olivia, Grace, Jeremy, and Mariah completed water quality projects along the length of the Winooski River. They applied stormwater and erosion Best Management Practices to the improvements they made at 23 distinct sites. From Montpelier to Richmond, to Colchester and Burlington, the crew built culverts, splash pools, check dams, and planted native vegetation. They stabilized a bank along the Burlington Bike Path. Their work results in reduced erosion and phosphorous going into the river and lake.

Then, the crew got in kayaks to join Joe and Demery, a two-person crew, in pulling invasive water chestnut from the lake and Otter Creek. In all, Corps Members pulled over 21,000 rosettes (floating leaves of the plant).

We weren’t done yet….. A staff crew rebuilt the boat launch in Richmond. In addition to improving recreational access, this project stabilized an eroding bank. Our fancy new stairs filter stormwater that comes off the green. We highly recommend you launch a canoe or kayak into the river at the Jonesville Bridge and paddle down to the Volunteer’s Green. Safety tip: wait until next summer J

 

Forestry

James, Vytas and Mairead bravely went where no Corps Member has gone before: completing three projects to improve the health of Vermont’s forests on our first ever “forestry” crew.

At Charlotte’s Park and Wildlife Refuge, they removed invasive honeysuckle and buckthorn with chainsaws. This regenerates native vegetation and improves wildlife habitat along Lake Champlain.

In Huntington and Richmond, the crew felled and girdled trees to promote hardwood timber growth and improve wildlife habitat.

We’re now prepared to do significantly more next year to address challenges Vermont’s forests face! This effort is led by Jas Smith, Conservation Forestry Manger, who was just featured in the Boston Globe and WDEV.

The Boston Globe piece was written by 2020 VYCC Corps Member Rachel Hellman. Way to go, Rachel!

 

Meanwhile, we’ve posted the very first opportunities for service, learning, leadership, and growth in 2021.

If you are, or know, someone who is ready to bring enthusiasm, leadership and tenacity to the Farm in 2021, check out our Farm Project Lead positions. Project Leads live and work together while guiding farm operations and mentoring the young people who make the Heath Care Share possible.