Plowing new trails
EAGLE – It’s hard to imagine what the east Eagle trail system would look like without the help of Colorado’s Youth Corps. For the second year in a row, the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (part of the Colorado Youth Corps Association) helped build additions to the growing system. An eight-member crew spent the last week of September building a new trail behind the Eagle Pool and Ice Rink.The trail connects the Boneyard Trail in the hills above Eagle on Bellyache to the Eagle ice rink. Normally, crews like the one that built this trail come-and-go on a project work without a lot of public recognition, said Ann Baker Easley, Colorado Youth Corps Association’s executive director. “Many times, people don’t even know we are here,” she says.But due to the cooperative nature of this project – a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, the Youth Corps, the town of Eagle, ECO Trails, and the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps – and the trail’s accessibility, Easley invited state and local officials for a visit to show off her crews’ work.
“This is a cool system, we aren’t like a state agency,” said Easley. “What we do happens through a number of public and private partnerships.”Representatives from the above agencies, and for U.S. Rep. Mark Udall and Sen. Ken Salazar, hiked up the new, one-mile trail. They were greeted by corps members, who explained the project, and talked about what their participation in the corps has done for them.”I wanted to see (Colorado) and get out and do some good hard work,” said Jill Smedstad, a youth corps member from Oregon. “They told me this crew was the best of the best from the corps, and it has been.”Crew leader Josh Weber pointed out the specifics of the trail. There were rock features, some hairpin turns, and even a couple of jumps built into the hiking, biking and horseback riding trail.There were already people out using the trail the day the crew finished its work.”It’s nice to see immediate results, and see people using the trail,” said Weber.
Different kind of jobThe crew’s last project – involving five of the eight members on the East Eagle job – was a 13-week episode at the top of Mt. Massive, near Leadville. Each day, corps members Ron Deiotte, Matt Geiger, Weber and Smedstad hiked close to 2,000 vertical feet to reach their job site. The Massive job was part of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative, a nonprofit group working to protect and preserve the state’s 14,000-foot peaks.By comparison, this east Eagle project was almost white collar. The walk to the project site was less than a mile with little vertical gain. And, the corps camped in the lap of luxury at the Eagle rest area, conveniently located behind a pizza restaurant and the bowling alley.
“It has been different than other jobs,” said Deiotte. “It was a nice change.”The camp location provided some options not always available to youth corps crew. Weber said they played Ultimate Frisbee one day, ice skated another day, and were treated to bowling on their last night in town.”It’s amazing, people in town know who we are, and they come up to us and thank us for the work we are doing,” said Weber.Leslie Kehmeier, a local mountain biker and member of the ECO Trails backcountry sub-committee, said area trail-users will be more than thankful for the new addition to Eagle’s trail system.”It’s amazing what has happened (in East Eagle),” she said. “We saw the opportunity to clean that area up and build some new trails at the same time.” She gets excited every time she rides there, not only because of the great trails, but also because of how they were built, she said.
This was the last project the corps will do in the Eagle area this summer. But thanks to a five-year partnership between the Bureau of Land Management and the Youth Corps, this won’t be the last time the corps pitches in on a project in Eagle.”This has worked very well for us and we look forward to continuing this relationship,” said Dorothy Morgan of the Bureau of Land Management. “It makes it easy for us to hire the corps for projects.”Vail, Colorado