Teaching youth to care about public lands
Grand County, CO Colorado
Tom Adamson, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) forester, talks about tree health as we stand at the trailhead to Cow Gulch in Kremmling. Tom is here to talk to students from West Grand High School about his job – to ensure future generations have trees by studying and managing the forest on BLM land.
The fact that we arrive at Cow Gulch Trail for this program, and a tree has been cut down, blocking the entrance to the trail, highlights the importance of educating people about care of public land.
One of the goals of this field trip to BLM land is to educate students about the natural resources on public lands and to encourage them to care about the land in order to prevent senseless destruction of natural areas. This happens a lot on the BLM land: There is public dumping of trash, and trail signs are destroyed.
Hannah Schechter is the Recreation Assistant for the BLM and coordinated this field trip with the high school. She scheduled multiple experts to talk to the students about the different resources that the BLM is in charge of in the Kremmling area. Her program includes topics from a wildlife biologist, a natural resource specialist, range land managers, a forester, recreation specialists, and a fire manager to illustrate all the different resources managed by the BLM in and around Kremmling. Another goal of the program is to show potential career paths in the outdoors.
Justin Kincaid, who is the Fire Management Specialist based out of the Craig, Colorado office, and I talk about his work with fire management and how he got started in his career. At age 19 he started working on fire crews including eight years on a hot shot crew. Later, he graduated from Colorado State College with a bachelor’s degree in forestry. He says that he has always been an outdoor person; skiing and hiking.
His career path started with forestry and later turned into a natural progression into fire management. This spring he is busy getting ready for summer fire season and tells me about the diverse group of people who take summers off from their jobs to fight fires. Some of these seasonal workers include high school graduates and even professionals such as doctors.
Justin’s presentation to the students today includes discussing the tools of the trade and the difference between good and bad fire. He describes the gear that is needed on a fire and what it is like working on a fire line.
Other subjects the BLM employees discuss with student: grazing rights, how the BLM works with ranchers, how BLM scientists protect endangered plants, and migratory bird habitat within BLM land. Hannah leads a discussion on maps and trail signs, and how recreation affects all the different resources on public lands.
Hannah started this educational outreach program in order to connect public lands to local communities with an initiative to get kids outside. She hopes the program will continue every year with regularly scheduled field trips out to the BLM land with student from all over the county. She also encourages students to consider summer job opportunities at the BLM. “Locals bring so much to the table; they are familiar with public lands around Kremmling and have insight into the history of the area.”
The BLM’s outdoor programs aim to engage, educate, and inspire youth. I hope this program will continue so that young people will help continue to understand and help fight to preserve natural areas such as BLM land in Kremmling. It was a good day to be outside learning the landscape around Kremmling. Anyone interested in volunteering, there are numerous opportunities to work outside with the recreational staff and scientists at the BLM.
Visit their website to learn more. http://www.blm.gov/co/st/en/BLM_Resources/volunteers.html
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