Newly constructed trail by the Front Range Trail Stewardship Strike Team on the Burning Bear Trail in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest.

Earlier this season, the Front Range Trail Stewardship Strike Team started their first project on a Front Range Trail in Colorado. Invaluable support from VF Foundation made the Strike Team, a new pilot partnership between the NFF, USDA Forest Service, and Mile High Youth Corps (MHYC), possible in 2020.

The Strike Team is working with the Forest Service, focusing on conservation projects in the front range of Colorado — an area that experiences heavy traffic, rapidly expanding population, and could always use more trail work. The crew started their second 9-day hitch of the season at Burning Bear Trail on Guanella Pass in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest. The crew worked on improving trail sustainability and making the trail more passable for equestrians. Crew leader Cordelle Kadlick said the crew utilizes different skillsets to construct the trails.

“We run a strike crew with the U.S. Forest Service and NFF through MHYC. We are a hybrid crew, which means we have three sawyers [chainsaw certified members] on our team and the rest of us are hand crew. We build trails and maintain trails in four different Forest Service districts,” Kadlick said.

For many of the crew members, this is the first experience doing this kind of work. Isabel Roberts (above), is a mixed-media artist. She was interested in exploring forestry work but lacked qualifications to get a job in forestry. Working with the Strike Team through MHYC, she is able to gain experience that will open forestry doors for her.

“Being able to come out here, work on these trails, meet people, and to really be of service to myself and others is a big goal and is something I’m fulfilling with the Youth Corps,” Roberts said.

Front Range Strike Team member Alexus Chappa (above) works on removing rocks from the trail. Chappa recently changed her major to Forestry and had loved her experience with the Strike Team.

“Working with MHYC is opening up many doors for me and it has given me many new opportunities … I love it. I work outdoors, I go home, and my home is the outdoors as of right now ... I think it’s something everyone should try and experience,” Chappa said.

MHYC Front Range Strike Team member Dan Reif (above) walks along the Burning Bear Trail. Reif is new to Colorado and is using his time with the Strike Team to scout out career options.

“I’m in the Youth Corps to explore, to see if I like this kind of work — I know I like this kind of work better than being in a warehouse or an office — but I’m just trying to see if it’s something I’d like to do in the future,” Reif said.

One of the crew’s sawyers cuts down trees that are too close to the trail.

National Forest Foundation