The 2021 YCC Crew sits on a newly constructed hitching post at Nurses Cabin in July 2021. Left to right are Ryan Crapps, Jacob Begich, Leah Fallon, Melita Efta and Olivia Somers. (Photo by USFWS/Heather Sokul)

The 2021 YCC Crew sits on a newly constructed hitching put up at Nurses Cabin in July 2021. Left to proper are Ryan Crapps, Jacob Begich, Leah Fallon, Melita Efta and Olivia Somers. (Photograph by USFWS/Heather Sokul)

The Youth Conservation Corps has been an integral half of Kenai Nationwide Wildlife Refuge summer season employees for a lot of summers. After a break in 2020, as a result of pandemic, the YCC was again in power in the summertime of 2021.

Native youth between the ages of 15 and 18 comprise the YCC crews. They sometimes spend eight weeks working and studying new abilities alongside refuge employees. This 12 months’s crew began in early June and spent the subsequent eight weeks creating new abilities and having a complete lot of enjoyable within the course of.

In late Could 2014, the Humorous River Hearth began simply off Humorous River Street inside the Kenai Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. Throughout the first 18 or so hours, the hearth had pushed its approach from Humorous River to the northwest nook of Tustumena Lake.

On the northwest shoreline of Tustumena Lake sits Nurses Cabin. Sadly, by the point hearth crews from the refuge might get to Nurses Cabin, the hearth had overrun it and pushed via the realm.

Nonetheless, upon arrival, crews found that as a result of of “firewising” performed by earlier refuge workers, a defensible house was created across the cabin, and the cabin and its outbuildings had survived the hearth because it moved via the realm.

Nurses Cabin is situated very near the tip of the Doc Pollard Horse Path, which runs 6.1 miles from Kasilof to Tustumena Lake. Many of us take pleasure in taking their horses down the Pollard Horse Path to both Nurses Cabin or past the path’s finish farther down the Lake.

Sadly, in 2014 when the hearth rolled via, it eradicated or compromised most of the white spruce and different bigger timber round Nurses Cabin. These timber have been nice choices for these using in by horseback to tie their horses to the excessive line throughout their time at Nurses Cabin.

Within the years because the hearth, the one decent-size timber nonetheless round and never affected by the hearth have been taking a beating from tying horses to them. These timber are one of the one defenses between the bluff and Tustumena Lake.

A handful of horse customers talked about this problem to the refuge employees over this previous winter. A considering and planning course of started to attenuate the influence of horses on the surroundings and save the timber. Consequently, the group got here up with the concept of building a everlasting construction.

After getting some steering from some native horse people, the choice was to construct a couple of hitching posts out at the cabin. The venture had many alternative phases that made it come collectively.

We used each native and dimensional supplies for the venture. As a result of lack of timber at the Nurses Cabin and surrounding space, we minimize down spruce timber at refuge headquarters for the cross items of the hitching posts.

To make sure longevity, the posts themselves consisted of 6-by-6 handled items of wooden. As soon as all the fabric was harvested, peeled and bought, then the true work started.

Together with the Cabins Supervisor Dan Saxton and lots of different helpers from the Customer Providers division, the primary workforce behind the venture was our Youth Conservation Corps Crew.

The 5 youngsters began the venture by clearing the realm the place we might put the 4 hitching posts spanning roughly 40 ft. As soon as cleared of all timber and brush that would injure the horses, we began determining the place and find out how to put the posts into the bottom.

The venture began with the adults main and educating the YCC. An grownup oversaw the outlet digging for the 6-by-6 posts, putting them and getting the posts set. A gas-powered auger was used to assist with the method as a result of eight put up holes wanted to be dug 3 to 4 ft deep and 6 inches huge.

The auger was meant to be a two-person auger, and at first, it appeared a bit intimidating for the YCCers to make use of. Nonetheless, all rapidly acquired into the routine and have been auguring holes, setting the posts, utilizing the degrees and, lastly, including and locking the poles in place.

My proudest second on this venture got here as we started to drill gap quantity six for the posts. 4 YCCers have been working collectively and have been yelling at me to tug the beginning twine on the auger so they might drill the outlet themselves with none adults. From that time on, with the outlet digging and put up setting, the group of YCCers had taken charge and would inform me what wanted to be performed.

Whereas the outlet digging was happening, a really comparable theme was occurring with Saxton and the spruce cross items. Saxton began by working with a couple of YCCers and displaying them find out how to minimize the notches on the cross items to suit them on high of the 6-by-6 posts.

By the tip of the venture, with the final little bit of notching, Saxton was in a position to take a step again and watch the YCCers do the job themselves.

It’s usually mentioned that YCC is about educating life classes whereas working inside the refuge and being on spike camps. For us, it is usually watching the crew develop all through their eight weeks at the refuge. The moments when one YCCer teaches one other YCCer a brand new ability they’ve simply discovered is what makes YCC such a particular and rewarding program for all at the refuge.

Christa Kennedy is the Trails Volunteer Coordinator for the Kenai Nationwide Wildlife Refuge. Discover extra Refuge Pocket book articles (1999–current) at

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