Trail Talk: Life on the crew of Grand Teton National Park’s Youth Conservation Program – The Final Report

The 2015 YCP crew finished their summer of work in Grand Teton in late August, but their incredible impact will be enjoyed by park visitors well into the future. YCP’s 21 crew members traveled to Jackson from Wyoming, Maryland, Texas, Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Kansas . Each student spent 10 weeks working in Grand Teton, hiked 10,140 vertical feet, and walked 164 miles. This ambitious group of teens completed an impressive amount of projects this summer including trail construction, asphalt removal, fence building, and much more.

Jumping at top of tram 2

Photo by Tim Anderson

The crew arrived in June and prepared 2 historic pontoons at Menor’s Ferry during their first week. One major project the group undertook this summer was at Huckleberry Hot Springs. Due to many years of use, damage to plants, and erosion, the area was in need of some attention from YCP. After a week of hard work, the crew cut and peeled 440 linear feet of timber to create a causeway, built 10 log steps, and installed 1 bridge to greatly improve the area.

20150625_ES_gtnpf ferry (9 of 10)
YCP Student at Menor’s Ferry. Photo by Eric Seymour

The group also worked at Mormon Row where they restored 679 feet of historic fence. In addition, the crew worked tirelessly to remove some of the asphalt that stretches along the Lupine Meadows Trail in an effort to return the natural feeling of the area. Overall, 450 cubic feet and 153 wheelbarrows of asphalt were removed.

Working at Mormon Row

A highlight of the summer for some YCP participants was the time they spent in the backcountry. In total, the crew spent 8 days in the backcountry setting up a base camp at the Lower Berry Ranger Cabin. From their backcountry post, the crew built 3,484 feet of new trail creating a much needed reroute in Lower Webb Canyon.

Working on Webb Canyon trail
Working on Lower Web Canyon Trail. Photo by Tim Anderson

Throughout the summer, YCP cleared 107 fallen trees from trails with crosscut saws; cleaned 986 drains; completed 16 acres of fire reduction work at Signal Mountain; constructed 260 feet of re-vegetation fence at Colter Bay swim beach; and helped with the Jenny Lake Renewal Project by peeling 780 feet of logs for the Hidden Falls bridges.

Peeling Logs. Photo by Ryan Sheets

Not only did this crew work hard physically to complete several projects, but they also had opportunities to learn about working in the park and gain essential outdoor skills. They spent a day with the Jenny Lake rangers, going through a variety of training sessions and learning about life as a ranger. In addition, they took a Wilderness First Aid Course through the Wilderness Medical Institute branch of NOLS, resulting in 18 certificates. It is obvious this group of teens worked tirelessly throughout the summer, improving areas of the park and engaging in educational opportunities. Perhaps the more impressive and important tally is that they did all of this with 0 injuries!

Thank you to all who volunteered, worked with, and supported our Youth Conservation Program.

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