Aspen Youth Corps adds interprative work to job description
ASPEN – A new program involving the city of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Conservancy has teenagers working to educate the public about the importance of wetlands and open space.
Last week, a group of four local teenagers participating in the Youth Conservation Corps guided a group of tourists and locals through the Maroon Creek Wetlands.
“Mostly we’ve been working in the wetlands to take out invasive species and maintain trails,” said Katie Bird, 19, a student at Denver University. “But we’re also doing some interpretive work here.”
She and Basalt High School junior Fletcher Richman, 16, as well as Fritz Carpenter and Brett Gordon, both 15-year-old students at Aspen High School, guided the group through the area and answered questions on everything from what animals lived there to how the wetlands work.
The teens explained that there are multiple purposes for the Maroon Creek Wetlands, including habitat for animals, solitude for people and the filtration of dust, trash and other materials before they reach the Roaring Fork River.
The city of Aspen’s Youth Conservation Corps is a 5-year-old program with the parks department that typically involves four high schoolers for a period of eight weeks in the summer. The teens perform a vital service and are an integral component to maintaining 1,300 acres of Aspen’s open space, according to the city. Tuesday is the final day for this summer’s participants in the program.
“We have a lot of open space in the city and not a lot of staff to do all the projects that need to be done,” explained Brian Long, parks and open space ranger. “These kids come to us with an interest in the natural resource field, and we give them a variety of entry-level experience.”
The corps has undertaken a variety of projects in the last few years, including noxious weed removal, trail reconstruction and finding, fencing and signing mine shafts on Smuggler Mountain. Most recently, they’ve added interpretive walks with the public to the list.
For more information on the Corps, or how to join next year, contact Brian Flynn, parks and open space coordinator, at 970-429-2035.
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