The NFF and Gunnison County Team Up to Create Stewardship Jobs

An example of National Forest stewardship in action.

As with many mountain communities in Colorado, visitation to the Gunnison Valley is at an all-time high. Land managers observe that they have never seen our public lands as busy as they have been in recent years. The area is surrounded by 1.7 million acres of National Forest, and the Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service also manage well-known recreation areas and parks in the region.

The valley has been nicknamed “the American Serengeti” for its abundance of wildlife, the single-track trail network is among the largest in the country, and the network of waterways provide endless opportunities for summer recreation. If it sounds like the perfect place to escape during quarantine, you aren’t alone in thinking that way.

The National Forest Foundation and Gunnison County officials acted urgently this past spring to prepare for the anticipated onrush of summer visitation. The partners quickly hatched the idea for the STOR Corps – a jobs-creation program modeled in-part after the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1920’s and in-part after the youth corps model that is so successful today.

The Corps is working with all of the federal land management agencies in the county, and the work is varied and of high importance. So far, the Corps has accomplished the following: distributed vaccines to prairie dogs, cleared deadfall on Wilderness trails, installed signs on Cottonwood Pass, restored wet meadows, removed noxious weeds, and planted NFF-funded trees on Slumgullion Pass.

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