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"Fifty for 50th" Celebration Brings Jobs to Montana

PHOTO: Two trail-clearing and maintenance projects are scheduled in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness this fall, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wilderness Act. Photo credit: Kyle Martens, Montana Conservation Corps
PHOTO: Two trail-clearing and maintenance projects are scheduled in the Selway Bitterroot Wilderness this fall, as part of the 50th anniversary celebration of the Wilderness Act. Photo credit: Kyle Martens, Montana Conservation Corps
September 4, 2014

BOZEMAN, Mont. – Crews of young people are ready to get to work improving trails and upgrading access on public lands in Montana.

The projects are part of the Fifty for the 50th celebration of the Wilderness Act.

Bobby Grillo, regional supervisor for the Montana Conservation Corps, which is coordinating projects, says it provides young people with work experience, and education about the stewardship of public lands.

And he says there's another angle.

"More and more, young adults are feeling a need to get away from the classroom, their virtual connections, cellular devices, and have an authentic experience on the ground," he explains.

Projects are scheduled at seven locations, including the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness this fall, where crews will cover nearly 450 miles.

Grillo says people from around the nation applied for the positions. 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 despite what's going on in Congress, where about two dozen wilderness bills are stalled – including proposals in Montana – wilderness designations always have been bipartisan efforts.

"It all starts on the ground, with local communities working together to protect places they care deeply about,” he says. “They engage their congressional delegation in very bipartisan ways."

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 - MT