Millennials gain hands-on experience

Local youth corps learn leadership and technical skills, while helping Denver Water steward our resources.

November 9, 2018 | By: Jose Salas

Denver Water has teamed up with Mile High and Rocky Mountain youth corps in the last two years on projects such as vegetation removal, wildlife land improvements and trail restorations at several our recreation areas.

These partnerships provide corps members with meaningful environmental education, technical skill-building and leadership opportunities.

“We get jobs done in a professional manner and they get a chance to learn what it takes to provide water,” said Mike King, chief of external affairs at Denver Water. “This is a great opportunity for Denver Water to give back to the community and engage a diverse set of young men and women.”

Here are some of the most recent projects we have partnered in:

Chainsaw crew gives buzz-cut to historic canal

Members of the Mile High Youth Corps remove overgrown vegetation along the High Line Canal in Waterton Canyon.
Members of the Mile High Youth Corps remove overgrown vegetation along the High Line Canal in Waterton Canyon.

 

Denver’s early settlers completed the 71-mile High Line Canal in 1883 to deliver water from the mountains to farmers on the dry plains. Today, Denver Water still uses the canal to deliver water to dozens of customers in the metro area for irrigation and to fill lakes and landscaping ponds.

Armed with chainsaws, hard hats and enthusiasm, eight members of Mile High Youth Corps teamed up with Denver Water in September 2017 to work on the historic High Line Canal.

The young adults are part of the Mile High Youth Corps’ chainsaw team who are trained in wildfire mitigation, invasive tree removal and vegetative corridor clearing.

The four-day project involved removing overgrown brush from a half-mile stretch of the canal at the mouth of Waterton Canyon. The team camped in the canyon during their work week.

Barbed wire fencing be gone

The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps removed more than 1 mile of barbed wire fence on Denver Water property near Dillon Reservoir in June 2018.
The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps removed more than 1 mile of barbed wire fence on Denver Water property near Dillon Reservoir in June 2018.

 

There are miles of barbed wire fence strung out across Summit County. While those fences were effective containing sheep and cattle 50 years ago, they have become a problem for wildlife today.

Denver Water partnered with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in June to remove several sections of fence around the utility’s Dillon Reservoir headquarters as well as sections around the Snake and Blue river inlets.

Most of the barbed wire fencing around Denver Water’s Dillon Reservoir headquarters was installed by ranchers in the mid-1900s for livestock grazing. It was never taken down when land uses changed throughout the county.

Denver Water also replaced a stretch of barbed wire fence with wildlife-friendly fencing at its Williams Fork facility in Grand County.

The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, based in Steamboat Springs, engages young people in the outdoors, inspiring them to use their strengths and potential to lead healthy, productive lives. For more information, visit www.rockymountainyouthcorps.org.

Trail improvement at Cheesman Reservoir

Mile High Youth Corp at Cheesman
Mile High Youth Corps crews are made up of seven to nine young adults (ages 18-24) and are supervised by a crew leader.

 

Most recently, Denver Water and Mile High Youth Corp partnered to protect wildlife and vegetation around Cheesman Reservoir by improving more than 1,200 feet of trail in the area.

“The Upper Cheesman Canyon Trail has a backlog of maintenance issues due to high use,” said Claire Morrissy, project manager for Mile High Youth Corps. “There are many sections that are heavily eroded and have visible drainage issues. By replacing wood structures with rock, reinforcing trail edges and enhancing water drainage, the improved trail will prevent hikers from going off-trail and decrease the need for long-term maintenance.”

The Mile High Youth Corps, based in Denver and Colorado Springs, provides technical and leadership training, as well as the relevant tools and support to set our crews up for success. To find out more, visit www.milehighyouthcorps.org.

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