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Love that New Mountain Bike Trail? Thank a Kid

PHOTO: Youth conservation crew members work on the Sandy Ridge trail system. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management Salem office.
PHOTO: Youth conservation crew members work on the Sandy Ridge trail system. Courtesy Bureau of Land Management Salem office.
September 4, 2012

SALEM, Ore. - This summer has been a busy one for young people employed in Oregon forests - and it isn't over yet. Hundreds of them get seasonal jobs working on public lands projects around the state for agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and they keep at it as long as weather permits. They built and improved the Sandy Ridge Trail system near Portland, replanted vegetation at the old Marmot Dam site, ripped out invasive species in the Klamath Basin, and monitored stream restoration in the Tillamook area.

Zach Jarrett, youth program leader with the BLM Salem office, says for some, it's their first outdoor experience as well as their first job.

"The learning curve can be a little steep. Fortunately, we have a lot of the crews for eight to 12 weeks. To see the progression from day one to day 150 is pretty dramatic. That is just as rewarding for us as getting the project work done on the ground."

Jarrett says some of the crews will be on the job until November. Back in May, federal grants were awarded to projects in 15 states to put more than 20,000 young people to work on public lands. The federal money was combined with private funding.

The federal agencies partner with schools and youth groups. Jarrett says the focus is on recruiting local young people for work in their area.

"It's good to see the kids getting pulled in from the local community, because they get a little bit more ownership of the area. You actually see them come back out on their free time to recreate on some of the spots where they've been spending their summers working. There's a big advantage to keeping it local."

The Sandy Ridge trail crew got a bonus for their hard work. A local mountain bike outfitter taught them the basics and let them use bikes once a week to try out the trails they helped build.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR