Dinosaur National Monument hosted a conservation work crew from the Student Conservation Association this summer, accomplishing trail maintenance to the Bull Canyon Trail connecting the Yampa Bench Road to the Yampa River at Harding Hole.
The SCA has been in existence for 56 years, with the partnership at Dinosaur ongoing since 1998.
Their mission statement is “to build the next generation of conservation leaders and inspire lifelong stewardship of our environment and communities by engaging young people in hands-on service to the land.”
The first SCA volunteers reported to Grand Teton National Park and Olympic National Park in1957.
There are different types of volunteers placed by the SCA, including resource assistants individually seeking opportunities with public land management agencies, and also conservation work crews like the one that worked at Dinosaur this summer. Dinosaur has also had numerous resource assistants over the years, helping with peregrine falcon monitoring and doing other wildlife and botanical studies.
The crew that was at Dinosaur this summer was a national conservation work crew, which engages students from all over the country to work on projects in a specific park for a few weeks. Dinosaur’s crew had two experienced SCA crew leaders who were of college age, and the rest of the crew was of high school age. The volunteers were comprised of four from Colorado, one from California and one from Ohio. Park Facility Manager Gary Mott, the principal contact for the conservation work crew program at Dinosaur said, “We have had SCA volunteers from as far away as Poland working on trails at Dinosaur. Between the SCA program and local scout groups, almost all of the trail maintenance done at the park for the last 15 years has been with volunteers.”
“I wanted to do something good for nature and the environment, so this seemed like a good opportunity,” said crew member Brett Loyd from Craig, Colo. “I learned about the program through my high school.”
The crew did more than just trail work while they were in the area. They addressed the Chamber of Commerce last week which gave them an opportunity to highlight what they had done in the area. They were also able to go white water rafting in Split Mountain Gorge for one day, and since they were in town for the Fourth of July, they had the opportunity to march in Vernal City’s parade. They were then able to camp in Ashley National Forest before returning home. Brittany Houtris from Grand Junction said it was her first time doing something like this, and that she really enjoyed it. “You get close to people. I feel like I have known these guys for years.”
The Shell Oil Corporation funded the Dinosaur SCA crew this year. The company had previously sponsored urban crews working in the Houston area, and decided to add in summer crews in Colorado because of their interest in sponsoring work for the youth in the area. The SCA had previously had a partnership with Dinosaur National Monument, so it worked out well. Shell also funded a conservation work crew that worked at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado.
Jay Watson, Vice President of the California/Southwest Region of the SCA, said, “The whole idea is to provide young people with a continuum of experience and provide opportunities for employment.” He also said that the SCA placed about 60 similar crews nationwide this summer.
To learn more information about the program, visit www.thesca.org.