Thanks to our partners at the National Forest Foundation (NFF), the Hayfork Youth Conservation Crew employed by the Watershed Center in Hayfork, California improved forest and stream health. Their actions reduced erosion and non-designated OHV trail-use while increasing public awareness around the incredible natural value of the South Fork Trinity River (SFTR) management area.
Designated a Wild and Scenic River, the undammed SFTR courses through steep terrain and supports Spring Chinook Salmon, Northern Spotted owls, and foothill yellow legged frogs. The first time Josh Smith, Watershed and Fisheries Program Manager at the Watershed Center, went on a snorkel survey in the SFTR changed him.
"When you are lucky enough to see Chinook circling in the depths, wild fish who've traveled from the ocean to lay their eggs, it is amazing." He knew then that he wanted to work toward saving the Chinook. For Josh, this involves a variety of restoration work including reducing fine sediment inputs to the streams by repairing erosion problems on trails.
During the 2018 Hayfork Youth Conservation Crew season, the NFF Matching Awards Program supported five local youth between the ages of 15 and 18 the opportunity to complete 18 miles of trail improvement and maintenance. Their work included:
- hydrologic upgrade of 0.75 mile of user created trails,
- repair of 21 trail drainage structures to curb erosion, and
- the improvement of 10 stream crossings.
In addition to the ecological benefits of their work, this program provided invaluable work experience in natural resources for high school aged members of our community. The hard work of youth crew participants is rewarded with mentoring, life skills, a deeper exposure to the natural world, and the culturing of stewardship of our protected places.
According to Tom Evans, Recreation Program Associate, “The most meaningful part of the Hayfork Youth Conservation Crew program is the experience that participants gain over the course of a summer working with their hands and learning about the vast, rugged, and beautiful landscape that surrounds Hayfork.”
Multiple youth crew participants have continued seeking employment in Natural Resources, some obtaining local jobs in the timber and recreation industries. This incredibly impactful program not only provides an immediate impact on the natural health of the SFTR management area, but trains the next generation of its stewards. Financial contributions from the NFF and other organizations are integral in supporting this program.