Build a trail, make a friend

Volunteers can work with youths to help finish Stagecoach loop

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— Residents and visitors in Northwest Colorado can hike more than 350 miles of trails in Routt County. On Tuesday, they'll have a chance to improve a few of those miles.

The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is leading Stagecoach Trail Build Day, a community effort to improve the Overlook Trail in Stagecoach State Park. Volunteers will spend two hours working on the trail's tread and slope before enjoying an ice cream social hosted by the Corps. The Overlook Trail is a multi-purpose trail that, when finished, will loop around Stagecoach Reservoir.

"This is a ... true collaborative effort between local government, state government and a local nonprofit agency," said Gretchen Van De Carr, RMYC's executive director.

There also will be collaboration among age groups.

Volunteers will work alongside members of two youth trail crews, the Regional Conservation Crew and the Community Youth Corps. RMYC runs the regional crew for teens ages 16 to 18. The city of Steamboat Springs' Parks, Recreation and Open Space Department runs the community corps for teens ages 14 to 16. Both groups are working on the Overlook Trail as one of many trail work and environmental projects in Routt County.

RMYC Development Dir-

ector Sheila Wright said the two regional crews will work four-week sessions this summer. The first session ends July 22. Regional crew members will work in the Poudre Canyon area, improve trails in Sylvan Lake State Park near Eagle, and take a backpacking trip into the Eagle's Nest Wilderness Area near Silverthorne.

"They're going to get to do some really cool stuff this summer," she said.

For many of the younger teens in the community corps, working for part of the summer will be their first full-time job.

Brooke Lightner, the city's teen programs coordinator, said more than 70 young adults will participate in one of 10 two-week work sessions running through August. Most of the teens live in Steamboat Springs, Lightner said, but some are from Hayden, South Routt, Craig and as far away as Maine. Every community corps member will fill out an application, be interviewed and receive pay as an employee of the city of Steamboat.

"One of our goals is to provide these kids with a first-job opportunity," Lightner said.

Community Youth Corps members do a lot of work around Steamboat Springs, such as painting fences at the rodeo grounds, working on irrigation systems at The Tennis Center at Steamboat Springs, and maintaining the Yampa River Core Trail.

"There's lots of planting, mulching and weeding," Lightner said. "Every year, we polish the elk at West Lincoln Park -- that's always a work highlight for the summer."

Participants in Tuesday's event at Stagecoach will get a firsthand look at the regional crew and the community corps.

"Volunteers will get a sense of how the two youth corps programs operate," Van De Carr said. "And (they) will have the satisfaction of giving back to their community."

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