Heart of Oregon Corps’ new crew will hit the trails on Ochoco Natl. Forest, Crooked River Grassland
Crew members are going to be rolling up their sleeves and getting their hands dirty, helping maintain these trails.
(Update; Adding video, comments from Heart of Oregon Corps Executive Director and Project Coordinator)
BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The Heart of Oregon Corps’ AmeriCorps program announced Thursday they are welcoming a new, specialized conservation crew to work on trail maintenance on these federal lands.
The Forest and Grassland have hundreds of miles of trails and receive over 100,000 visitors each year. With a growing number of people visiting public lands in Central Oregon, this crew of local youth will be vital in creating access and improving the overall experience for local visitors, the organization said.
The crews will help make sure streams are healthy, push brush out of the way, improve logging and bridge crossings, as well as getting rid of trails that aren't meant to be there.
“People who are there really know and all across Central Oregon, recreation is such an important part of our economy and why we live here and why we love to live here. But, we're kind of loving public lands to death, in a way," said Executive Director of Heart of Oregon Corps Laura Handy told NewsChannel 21 Thursday.
Crews will work more than 40 hours a week on upkeep for those trails, camping along the trails as they work.
The opportunity is open to 18-24-year-olds who live in Crook County and other areas around Central Oregon.
Young people who enroll earn an AmeriCorps living allowance and scholarship.
Here's the rest of Thursday's announcement:
“Public lands have been greatly impacted by growing popularity in the last few years.” Says Mitch Lex, the program coordinator at Heart of Oregon Corps. “Currently, the Forest Service depends heavily on volunteer support for trail construction and maintenance. Hiring a dedicated crew made up of local youth that can work in the front country as well as in the backcountry adds value to both the community and the Forest and Grassland.”
The new HOC trail crew is set to begin at the end of April and work through October. This crew is different than other HOC AmeriCorps crews because of the specialization and the added element of backcountry camping trips. The crew will consist of a crew leader, an assistant crew leader, and three 900-hour term AmeriCorps members, with five additional Corpsmembers to join later in the summer.
This national service opportunity is open to 18-24-year-olds who live in Crook County and other areas around Central Oregon. Local youth have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the conservation field, serve closely with the U.S. Forest Service, and be outside all summer long improving trail access on our beautiful Central Oregon public lands. Projects consist of both front-range day trips and overnight backcountry camping trips. HOC will also be looking to partner with other trails-focused organizations in Central Oregon for more training and collaboration.
This new specialized crew is an addition to Heart of Oregon’s traditional conservation crews. Applications are open for this crew and other HOC conservation corps. If you or someone you know is interested, please visit www.heartoforegon.org to learn more and apply.
About Heart of Oregon Corps
Heart of Oregon Corps is a nonprofit organization invested in inspiring and empowering change in the lives of Central Oregon youth through jobs, education, and stewardship. Their programming creates pathways out of poverty while stimulating regional economic growth. They apply a “work-earn-learn” model that invests in local young people, many of whom come from disadvantaged backgrounds, to prepare them for the workforce and to encourage their self-sufficiency. Heart of Oregon Corps trains tomorrow’s workforce today—and they are accepting youth applications now! For more info or to apply, visit heartoforegon.org
The proposed projects will be supported by AmeriCorps under Grant # 19ACHOR002. Opinions or points of view expressed in this release are those of Heart of Oregon Corps and do not necessarily reflect the official position of, or a position that is endorsed by, AmeriCorps.
About Ochoco National Forest and Crooked River National Grassland
Located near the geographic center of Oregon, the Ochoco National Forest consists of 845,498 acres of land divided into three ranger districts: Crooked River National Grassland, Lookout Mountain, and Paulina. The Forest is headquartered in Prineville, Oregon.
The Forest administers land in the Maury and Ochoco mountains, which are southward extensions of the Blue Mountains physiographic province. Most of the Forest is drained by the Crooked and Deschutes rivers. Part of the north slope of the Ochoco Mountains drains into the John Day River. The forest is lush and beautiful with miles of roads and trails to enjoy, including three Congressionally designated wilderness areas.