Local Youth Forest Stewards in Action

FDRD started a brand new summer youth crew called Youth Forest Stewards (YFS). This crew of local, high-school aged youth meet once per month for an environmental service project with FDRD. Projects include trail maintenance, fence building, campsite restoration, wildlife habitat restoration, and more! Kids get the opportunity to learn what it takes to care for our local forest and how much of an impact they can make on our trails here in Summit County.

Sapphire Point – May 22

We kicked off our first project at Sapphire Point, where the YFS crew helped us tackle some restoration work on one of the most popular trails in the county. With the hoards of people that are up there daily, it’s no surprise that the entire slope is eroding down the mountain from repeated and heavy off-trail travel. For the past few years, FDRD has been working on improving the tread maintenance to prevent erosion, and restoring the surrounding ecosystems back to their original state. During our Sapphire Point YFS project, the crew constructed 60 feet of buck and rail fence, lining the recently improved trail. The fence starts from the overlook and extends towards the parking lot. This area is heavily trafficked and the new fence will help keep hikers from romping off trail. During fence construction, youth learned valuable skills like how to use power tools safely and how proper measurements ensure structural stability of a fence.

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The Peaks Trail – June 17

Next up our YFS crew tackled some turnpike maintenance on the Peaks Trail. Everyone learned what exactly a turnpike is, and why this elevated trail structure is ideal for areas that tend to get wet or muddy with spring runoff or heavy precipitation. The crew completed 30 feet of turnpike maintenance and were able to really see the difference they made. Check out those progress pictures! During the project the kids had fun using their power drill skills from the first project, as well as pounding rebar into rounds, collecting dirt from a borrow pit, and smashing rocks with the single jack. The end product ensures that hikers feet don’t get muddy or wet when passing through, and that surrounding areas are not damaged when hikers inevitably avoid over-saturated areas.


Rock Creek – July 15


After a couple of highly productive project days on the trails, we made our way up to the popular dispersed camping area, Rock Creek Road, to do some campsite restoration. This project aimed to increase the health of the forest that sees a lot of overnight visitors in the summer months. The crew restored approximately 4,356 square feet of area!! They dispersed illegal campfire rings, installed signage, and “junked up” closed off areas; which is a very technical term for dragging in a bunch of debris to discourage anyone from camping there in the future. We finished off the day by planting four baby trees in hopes that they’ll grow big and tall and become an important part of the ecosystem!

Barbed Wire Removal – August 12

August’s project was all about wildlife habitat rehabilitation and making room for new wildlife fences along i70. FDRD and the YFS crew helped out Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Summit County Safe Passages with some barbed wire removal along the i70 corridor between Silverthorne and Frisco. Once all the barbed wire fence is removed, CDOT will be installing some wildlife fencing, which will help reduce animal-vehicle collisions on this dangerous stretch of highway. The crew was in charge of removing fencing, coiling, and piling to be picked up and disposed of. This task is never an easy one, considering the nature of the terrain and amount of dead trees and debris, but the kids ended up removing close to a 1/4 mile of fencing! Well done, team.

Peru Crk Campsite Restoration – September 25

The last YFS project of the summer took place on National Public Lands Day, one of the largest forest stewardship days in the country! The crew of local high schoolers culminated their season by coordinating their very own public volunteer project, for which they chose illegal campsite restoration up Peru Creek Road. Everybody invited their friends and family out to show them all they’ve learned over the course of the summer. At the end of the day our group of 19 restored 5,000 square feet of forest, transplanted 12 trees, plus eight additional plants, and collected a bag of trash.

Given the excellent feedback and successes of our inaugural YFS crew, FDRD will be continuing this program in the future. If you or someone you know is interested in this summer program for high school aged children, please visit our Youth Forest Stewards page and considering joining the crew in 2022!