Trails bring student crews together

Walking to work

The Bucks Lake Wilderness has pristine mountain lakes, breath-taking vistas, and the Pacific Crest Trail. But it also is the best rendezvous place for aspiring youth stewardship leaders. Two high school crews met up for the August trail summit of working hands to prepare a damaged section of the upper Mill Creek Trail. The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship (SBTS) high school trail crew and Plumas Conservation, Restoration, and Education in Watersheds (P-CREW) joined forces for an exchange in skills and teen leadership.

The SBTS crew has been going strong for five years doing trail work on the Plumas and Lassen National Forests. These teens are some of the hardest-working in the northern Sierras. Inspired by the leadership of the renowned SBTS organization, they haul rock and dirt, move immense boulders, install drainage systems, brush trails, and re-build trails that seem beyond repair.

Pulling together this summer’s small crew of alumni and new students was a challenge. SBTS was faced with hiring a new trails coordinator and new crew leader just in time for student recruitment. But they pulled together a shorter session so as not to lose momentum for the summer youth program.

P-CREW just happened to be working in the forest at the same time. So the two youth crews joined with the Plumas National Forest Mt. Hough Ranger District trail crew so they could all accomplish more together. SBTS provided the mentoring while P-CREW provided additional muscle. In less than one week, the damaged section of trail was repaired and completed.

The five-year partnership between SBTS and the Plumas and Lassen National Forests has been in place since last year. But SBTS has had on-going partnerships involving youth with Plumas NF for several years. This program is funded through the Moonlight and Storrie Fire Restoration projects and SBTS.

P-CREW is comprised of twelve rural and urban students, ages fifteen to eighteen, brought together to have a profound impact on public lands. Most of the work completed is part of the Moonlight, Rich, and Storrie Fire Restoration projects. This year’s program is a partnership between Plumas National Forest, Sierra Institute for Community and Environment, and the National Park Service-Lassen Volcanic National Park.

The students are quite proud of the work they did and what they’ve learned. Charles had this to say: "On the last check stop, Greg and I chiseled out the spot for the check step out of pure rock and it fit perfectly, so I was really proud of it.” 

"Take in everything, not everybody gets to come out here and see all these beautiful sights and build trail. Trails are a lot of fun and you can learn a lot of things. Take in everything that your counselor says because it really does go a long way."

The student crews are not just about land stewardship, they are about having a positive impact and changing lives—just like the Bucks Lake Wilderness itself.