Utah youth preserve parks

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    By Matthew Clarke

    Ten students from Grand and San Juan Counties have given up their summer vacation to join the Conservation Corps established by the National Park Service.

    The students” work begins June 5, 2006 and their tour of duty includes dozens of work projects throughout southern Utah. Their work sites include Arches and Canyonlands national parks as well as Hovenweep and Bridges national monuments.

    Paul Henderson of the National Park Service said the student conservationists will be doing various projects including habitat restoration, trail management and park construction. Some projects require corps members to spend days at a time in backwoods outpost camps. He said in addition to the scheduled projects, there is a backup to-do list if the corps gets ahead of schedule.

    “Something we typically do is underestimate how quickly these youth can accomplish the projects,” Henderson said.

    Henderson said the $9.29 hourly wage the corps members will be making during the summer is paid entirely by park fees and the money is well worth it. He said the corps members are paid an entry-level wage and their work ranges from labor-intensive work projects to skills-based management objectives, all of which help to free up more skilled personnel during the busy summer months.

    Henderson said the Conservation Corps is modeled after similar organizations from the 1960s in the way it strives to educate and enable its members. He said corps members will be combining their personal interests with the expertise of park service personnel to pursue a research project that will be presented to park service officials and family members at the end of the summer.

    The Conservation Corps is sponsored by the Southeast Utah Group of the National Park Service and this year”s corps consists of students from southern Utah high schools. Grand County High School has five students in the program and another five students come from San Juan County School District.

    “We”re happy to be able to continue the Conservation Corps program this year,” said Tony Schetzsle, former superintendent of the Southeast Utah Group, in a park service statement. “This is an excellent use of our visitor fee revenues and we look forward to the same kind of success that we have enjoyed for the past eight summers.”

    College-aged outdoor enthusiasts can get involved in conservation programs as well. The Utah Conservation Corps is based out of Utah State University in Logan and its membership consists largely of able-bodied twenty-somethings. Sean Damitz, program director for Utah Conservation Corps, said volunteers are welcome to work alongside corps members as they clear and define trails for National Trails Day on June 3. Interested persons should contact corps personnel at www.usu.edu/ucc.

    Damitz said the Utah Conservation Corps is seeking applicants for summer Americorps positions. He said these positions are often a useful stepping-stone for people pursuing careers in environmental management.

    He also said the Utah Conservation Corps tries to make room for youth programs like the one starting in June. He said he supports anything that involves young people and conservation.

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