Last week, the Conservancy kicked off the 2019 Conservation Corps season! After a week of crew leader training and season preparation, the crew members arrived on May 27th. The day proved to be a rather rainy Memorial Day; however, the energy remained high with excitement and anticipation for the season ahead.
On Monday, we checked in all 28 crew members, distributed gear, and set up camp at Moraine Park Campground. After several summers of the Conservation Corps calling Moraine Park Campground home for training week, the crews have become accustomed to and efficient in setting up the site.
On Tuesday, we began orientation with some icebreakers and team building exercises. As always, these included some lively rounds of “Ninja.” After getting to know each other, the Conservation Corps developed an understanding of the Conservancy and their schedule for the summer before breaking into their crews to better understand their work sites and projects. In the afternoon, the crews traveled to the Estes Park Mountain Shop to be outfitted with boots for the season. A big THANK YOU to the Estes Park Mountain Shop for helping size, fit, and outfit our crews!
Wednesday and Thursday were full force training days. Wednesday morning began with the crew leaders hosting training for their crews. These included back country safety and preparedness, Leave No Trace outdoor ethics, how to pack a backpack, and camp cooking. They wrapped up their training with a Pad Thai cook-off on backcountry stoves.
In the afternoon, the crews completed First Aid and CPR/AED training and goal-setting. The next morning, the USFS provided Defensive Driver training to the Corps to prepare them for driving work trucks and large vehicles throughout the summer. In the afternoon, the crews joined the National Park Service for a trails training to help familiarize them with trail tools, safety, theory, and design.
The Conservation Corps wrapped up the week on Friday with Jim Pickering, Estes Park Historian Laureate and Conservancy Board President, to learn about how they fit into the history of stewardship and conservation in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Before sending the crews to their work locations on Sunday, the Conservation Corps participated in a National Trails Day project alongside 15 volunteers. The project focused on the Cub Lake Trail. Due to the trail’s popularity and close proximity to water, the trail has become braided in many sections. This braiding is caused by hikers stepping outside of the trail corridor and walking alongside the trail due to wet conditions, other hikers, and a number of other reasons. The Conservation Corps and volunteers split into six groups to tackle various sections of the trail. The work included closing down social trails by placing rocks and debris to discourage future use, removing obstacles to improve the surface of the main trail, and installing drains to move water off trail.
On Sunday, the crews all departed to their respective locations to prepare for their first week of on-the-ground work. Stay tuned for weekly updates from the field to follow the Conservation Corp’s hard work!
– Geoff Elliot, Director of Conservation