Trail Talk: A Window into Grand Teton National Park’s Youth Conservation Program – The Final Report

The teens of the 2014 Youth Conservation Program (YCP) have now returned home to family, friends, and school. Their summer of working and learning in Grand Teton finished over one month ago, but their extraordinary efforts continue to be appreciated by all who spend time in Grand Teton.


YCP crew members also had the opportunity to make new friends while working on the trails this summer. Photo by Eric Seymour, JHMR

After 10 weeks on the job, 144 miles hiked by each individual, and a combined team total of 5,842 hours worked, the YCP tallies are in! We knew this group was special, but these numbers are particularly impressive. The crew brushed and addressed drainage issues on 109 miles of trail, rehabilitated approximately 1,500 yards of trail, moved 153 wheelbarrows of material, built 28 log check steps at Grand View Point, and cleared 23 fallen trees with cross-cut saws. They also had the opportunity help NPS trail crews at Jenny Lake by constructing 200 feet of new trail as part of the Inspiring Journeys campaign, an effort to revamp the trails and visitor services at the iconic destination.

Building trail at Jenny

Building new trail at Jenny Lake

A highlight for the majority of YCP participants was a 4 day backcountry trip to a remote corner of Grand Teton. The group had the unique opportunity to stay at the Lower Berry Cabin, a park service ranger cabin. During this backcountry adventure, the crew benched 3 miles of trail in Owl and Webb Canyons, built a footbridge along Owl Creek, and completed brushing and drainage work around Lower Berry Cabin.


Building bridges takes teamwork. Photo by Patrick Nelson, JHMR

In addition to learning about trail building and maintenance, the teens gained a wide range of skills through the various projects they completed in the park. Fence construction seemed to be a pressing need on the maintenance list for Grand Teton this summer. The YCP crew built 300 yards of re-vegetation fence at Colter Bay swim beach, 100 yards of buck and rail fence, 2 hitch rails at the LSR Preserve, and repaired 1 historic fence at the park’s famed Moulton Barn on Mormon Row. The team also built 2 foot bridges, one of which was on the popular hiking trail at Bradley Lake. The extensive amount of woodworking that the YCP team accomplished required the teens to peel 160 linear feet of logs!


A YCP crew member carefully cutting a log for a footbridge after receiving instruction on safe use of such a large saw. Photo by Patrick Nelson, JHMR

Although the focus of the summer for YCP was trail maintenance, the teens had several opportunities to learn about various park management strategies. While learning about pine beetle and blister rust’s negative impacts on the whitebark pine tree, which plays a significant role for several species in the ecosystem, the crew built 419 whitebark pine cone cages to help gather seeds for this struggling species. They also removed invasive plants from 10 acres on Cottonwood Creek, and completed 12 acres of fire reduction work at Signal Mountain.


YCP crew members working together at Mormon Row in preparation for fence restoration. Photo by Eric Seymour, JHMR

While not working in the field, each crew member spent 18 hours in a Wilderness First Aid Course and 39 hours completing strength and flexibility training. After going through this exhaustive list of accomplishments, the most refreshing number of the summer is that not one YCP crew member received an injury!

First aid training

Team members participating in a rescue scenario during their Wilderness First Aid Course.

This year’s YCP crew was comprised of a driven group of teens whose significant accomplishments will be enjoyed by Grand Teton visitors well into the future. We want to extend a huge thank you to this inspiring team of teens for all of their hard work and dedication this summer!

Leave a Comment

Get the latest news right to your inbox!

Looking for more?

Sign up for our featured park happenings, winter adventure ideas, wildlife spotting, and more!

Scroll to Top