North Carolina’s Youth Conservation Corps Completes Conservation Projects on Protected Lands

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps (NCYCC) has completed high priority conservation and community service projects that will enhance North Carolina’s protected lands and create more recreation opportunities for North Carolina families.  The NCYCC deployed four summer crews of 16 to 24 year-olds from across the state.  Each crew consisted of six to eight youth working with one to two highly trained crew leaders.  The crews started work on June 21 and camped the entire seven weeks until finishing August 9.          

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One NCYCC crew restored a U.S. Forest Service trail near Blowing Rock.  A second crew completed a variety of projects for the National Park Service along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  A third crew worked on trail construction and facility improvements for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, trail work and invasive plant removal for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, and launched a new public park at Shiloh Landing (near Tarboro and Princeville) for Edgecombe County.  The fourth crew built a new boardwalk at Lake Waccamaw State Park, worked in two Wake County parks, and made improvements to a Mecklenburg County nature preserve owned by the Catawba Lands Conservancy.  The crews’ work included the following specifics:

Thunderhole/China Creek Trail – Watauga and Caldwell Counties

·         1.5 miles of trail construction and maintenance and completion of a new kiosk at the trailhead

Blue Ridge Parkway between Mileposts 260 and 305 – Watauga, Caldwell, and Avery Counties

·         Trail maintenance on the Boone Fork Trail, Green Knob Trail, Rough Ridge Trail, and Tanawha Trail

·         Removal and construction of historic fencing at the Julian Price Picnic Area, Moses Cone Manor, and Sims Creek Overlook

Falls Lake Visitor Assistance Center – Wake County

·         Construction of wildlife viewing blind and features for a nature play area

Jordan Lake – Chatham County

·         2.7 miles of trail construction and maintenance

Shiloh Landing – Edgecombe County

·         Construction of one mile of new trail, five benches, and two picnic tables

Beaver Marsh Nature Preserve – Durham County

·         Trail construction and maintenance that included four new boardwalk sections and invasive plant removal

Lake Waccamaw State Park - Columbus County

·         150 feet of new boardwalk construction

Seven Oaks Nature Preserve - Mecklenburg County

·         50 acres of invasive plant removal, trash pick-up, habitat restoration, and trail maintenance

Harris Lake County Park – Wake County

·         Construction of 60 feet of new boardwalk for the park’s disc golf course

Lake Crabtree County Park – Wake  County

·         Construction of a new building to house the park’s historic hand dug well for public viewing and invasive plant removal

The NCYCC, a partnership between the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, is a comprehensive youth development program that uses the natural world as a platform for teaching environmental stewardship, job and leadership skills, community service and personal responsibility.  The crews worked 7 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 7 weeks and were paid minimum wage.  Each day also included a one-hour educational program focused on conservation and social topics.  The crews lived together at camp sites near their respective work projects.

“The crews did excellent work, often amid challenging conditions, to improve, restore, and preserve our natural areas for greater public enjoyment,” said Jan Pender, NCYCC Director.  “In the process, they gained job and life skills, learned personal responsibility, strengthened their appreciation for the outdoors, and gave back to their communities.”

 “The North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps assisted the Blue Ridge Parkway in important trail and resource protection work in highly used areas,” said Matt Henderson, National Park Service District Facility Manager. “The youth's work will also help enhance the visitor experience in the North Carolina high country for both locals and the traveling public who enjoy the Parkway’s trails, picnic areas and scenic views.”

 “After working with the North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps, not only did I learn a great deal about the people in my crew, but I learned a lot about myself,” said NCYCC crew member Blake Barnette.  “I also learned what an impact such a small group can make on the environment.  It’s definitely something I’ll keep with me for the rest of my life.”

The NCYCC crews were sponsored by: Conservation Trust for North Carolina; Vermont Youth Conservation Corps; Woodson Family Foundation; Fred and Alice Stanback; Bill and Nancy Stanback; U.S. Forest Service; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; Blue Ridgeway Parkway Foundation; Kulynych Family Foundation; BB&T; Cape Fear Resource, Conservation & Development, Inc.; Wake County Parks, Recreation and Open Space; Pepsi Bottling Ventures; Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation; North Carolina Electric Membership Cooperatives; Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association; Columbia Sportswear; Great Outdoor Provision Company; 84 Lumber; New Generation Leaders of Edgecombe County; National Park Service; Catawba Lands Conservancy; North Carolina State Parks; and many generous individual donors!

 The Conservation Trust for North Carolina connects people to the outdoors, assists 23 local land trusts so that they can conserve more land, and protects natural and scenic lands along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  Land trusts preserve land and waterways to safeguard our way of life. They work with landowners to ensure natural lands are protected for clean air, safe drinking water, fresh local foods, and recreational opportunities for all North Carolina families.