This is the second year that Texas Conservation Corps has partnered with the US Forest Service to provide leadership to their Youth Conservation Corps program in East Texas. Participants aged 15-17 were recruited from Kennard, a small town near the Davy Crockett Forest, and worked in the forest gaining valuable job skills. A Texas Conservation Corps member serving with one of our Emergency Response Teams moved to East Texas for 2 months to lead the youth members. TxCC also had a 4 hitch project in the same ranger district, improving 27 miles of the 4C hiking trail, which allowed one of our crews to work alongside the YCC for most of the summer. The program ended 8 August and the following posts are reflections from their term.
These past couple of weeks have been adventurous for me and as well as the others! We built bridges, cut down trees, and cleaned up trails. I had never even used a power tool before. My favorite experience was working on the ruins of the old mill. I admit I was not a big fan at first because of the bugs and ticks I encountered, but the final product was so beautiful that I forgot about all the bugs. I enjoyed working with the other Texas Conservation Corps crew; they made it seem like there was not a gender difference in the work place! Being the only girl made me wanna strive for better. I really enjoyed being with the YCC program. I was able to work on my teamwork skills and my “attitude” -haha! I’m really glad I joined the program.
Over the summer we have built 3 bridges. We repaired the planks on a bridge on the Tall Pines trail. We also added on to another bridge on the Tall Pines trail. Then the project that I was over was the foot bridge right before the bridge that we repaired. It was a 12 foot long bridge, and it was 2 feet off of the ground. On that bridge we used 4 2×10’s. The other bridges we fixes we used 2×6’s. We had tons of fun building all of the bridges.
All last week we were bringing history back to life! Our duties were to work at the ruins of the old sawmill at Ractliff Lake. We brushed, moved dead trees, cut, and piled loose debris. It was one of the hardest weeks of work we have had all summer in this program. All of Ractliff lake holds history and stories from way before most of our lifetimes. It’s our job to preserve that and take care of it so we can pass it on to future generations.
What we did during the past week or so was making an old run-down campsite into a state-of-the-art GROUP CAMPSITE!!! We made a whole new tent pad too! I hated it though. Why? I had to friggen make it “perfectly even” – oh yea its was made out of dirt. So I’m sure you can imagine how difficult it was to rake a pile of dirt to make it even in a square form! And then we scraped some old paint off of picnic tables and repainted them. Then we put in some signs and lantern posts (painted thoses too).