The North Carolina Youth Conservation Corps (NCYCC) has completed high priority conservation and community service projects that will enhance North Carolina’s public lands and create more recreation opportunities for visitors. The NCYCC deployed two summer crews of 16 to 24 year-olds from across the state. Each crew consisted of 5 to 8 youth working with two highly trained crew leaders. The crews started work on the projects June 22 and camped the entire seven weeks of their work session.
One NCYCC crew built a 7-mile mountain bike trail for the U.S. Forest Service in the Croatan National Forest. The second NCYCC crew completed a variety of projects for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the Falls Lake Visitor Center, did trail construction and maintenance for the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and removed invasive species from the Eno River for North Carolina State Parks. The project work included:
Croatan National Forest
- Cleared a 7-mile corridor of thick vegetation for a new mountain bike trail;
- Constructed the foundation for the bike trail;
- Constructed a flat and smooth surface for the completed bike trail, using an excavator.
Falls Lake Dam Visitor Assistance Center
- Constructed new amphitheatre and trail leading to it from the Falls Lake Visitor parking lot;
- Constructed new RV gravel parking pad for volunteer workers at the Falls Lake Dam;
- Removed invasive species from the Dam’s surrounding hardwood forest;
- Completed trail maintenance on the Dam’s interpretive trail.
Mountains-to-Sea Trail (MST)
- Completed trail maintenance on 60 miles of the MST in and around Falls Lake State Recreation Area and in Eno River State Park.
Eno River State Park
- Removed Alligator Weed, an invasive aquatic species, from the Eno River.
The NCYCC, a partnership between the Conservation Trust for North Carolina (CTNC) and the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, is a comprehensive youth development program that uses the natural world as a platform for teaching environmental stewardship, job and leadership skills, community service and personal responsibility. The crews worked 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for 7 weeks and were paid minimum wage. Each work day included a one-hour educational program focused on conservation and social topics. The crews lived together at camp sites near their respective work projects.
“These young adults worked incredibly hard, often amid seemingly unending rainstorms, to enhance the visitor experience in Croatan National Forest, Falls Lake State Recreation Area, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, and Eno River State Park. Our goal is to put more crews on the ground in summer 2014, including on local land trusts’ protected properties, to make them more available to the public,” said Reid Wilson, CTNC Executive Director.
“The NCYCC has managed to get significant parts of a couple of major projects done for the Eno River State Park that simply never would have gotten done by park staff alone,” said
Keith Nealson, Park Superintendent for the Eno River State Park. “They contributed hundreds of hours of work helping to map and pull alligator weed, an invasive aquatic species in the Eno River, and made significant improvements to the Park’s outlying trails. They have done this work under less than ideal conditions and with minimal supervision. We are grateful to everyone involved for making this project happen.”
“The NCYCC has definitely been a very positive experience,” said Elijah Canup of the NCYCC Croatan Crew. ”I want to now pursue a career that will allow me to work outdoors.”
“The toughest part of the experience has been living without my cell phone,” said Thomas Best of the NCYCC Triangle Crew. “I’m used to texting my friends before going to bed at night. This experience has taught me to talk with nature and my fellow crew members instead.”
The Croatan National Forest crew members included Rebekah Siddiqi of Asheboro, Caroline Martin of Charlotte, Elijah Canup of Salisbury, Samantha Stephens of Reidsville, Michael Gibson of Wilmington, Kristoffer Gartner of Hillsborough, Britney Tatters of Fletcher, and Chris McGowan of Apex. The Triangle crew members were Elle Weeks of Carrboro, Kristine Ongchuan of Cary, Jonathan Hill of Raleigh, Thomas Best of Durham, and Wesley Hitson of Raleigh.
The NCYCC crews were sponsored by the Conservation Trust for North Carolina, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Woodson Family Foundation, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, Great Outdoor Provision Company, Pepsi Bottling Ventures, Kulynych Family Foundation, Little Acorn Fund, Eddie and Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation, Columbia Sportswear, Merrell, Outdoor Nation, and numerous individual supporters.