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Conservation Projects in Idaho Put Young People to Work

PHOTO: Idaho is one of 25 states where crews of young people will upgrade public-land access as part of the Fifty for the 50th celebration of the Wilderness Act. Photo courtesy of Public Lands Service Corps.
PHOTO: Idaho is one of 25 states where crews of young people will upgrade public-land access as part of the Fifty for the 50th celebration of the Wilderness Act. Photo courtesy of Public Lands Service Corps.
September 4, 2014

BOISE, Idaho – Idaho is one of 25 states where crews of young people will upgrade public land access as part of the Fifty for the 50th celebration celebration of the Wilderness Act.

Fifty projects will be completed over the next year, including work in the Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness and the Bruneau-Jarbidge Rivers Wilderness.

Bobby Grillo, regional supervisor for the Montana Conservation Corps, which is coordinating projects in Idaho, says disconnecting from the digital world connects young people to the importance of land stewardship.

"Developing real relationships in a meaningful way that lends itself to a simple lifestyle, a healthy lifestyle, where they can actually see the fruits of their labor on a regular basis," he adds.

Nationwide, when projects are completed, more than 200,000 hours will have been spent to improve public lands and waterways.

Jamie Williams, president of The Wilderness Society, says Congress has underfunded public lands agencies for years, so the work needs to be completed.

He also notes that new wilderness proposals are stalled in Congress, and he's hopeful this on-the-ground experience will inspire new advocates.

"The great work of the public lands service corps really does bring along the next generation of land stewards,” he says. “It teaches them the value of hard work and teamwork, which are skills that they can take with them throughout their lives.

“And we know that these experiences can be life-changing."

The projects are part of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, and take place on federal, state, local and tribal lands.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - ID