Weld County Youth Corps awarded $22,500 to fight invasive plants

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WELD COUNTY — The Colorado Youth Corps Association (CYCA) and the Colorado Water Conservation Board (CWCB), a division of the Department of Natural Resources, will fund invasive plant species mitigation projects throughout Colorado in an effort to preserve and protect the state’s water resources.

Weld County Youth Conservation Corps (WCYCC) will receive $15,000 to remove invasive vegetation from riverbanks and sandbars of the South Platte River. The project is coordinated with and sponsored by Ducks Unlimited. The corps will also receive $7,500 to eradicate tamarisk and Russian olive along the St. Vrain River in a project for the Weld County Weed Division.

A total of five projects in 2014, funded through a $50,000 grant from the CWCB, will be conducted by CYCA-accredited youth conservation corps in conjunction with local project sponsors in four counties throughout the state.

The projects are designed to control a variety of invasive phreatophyte plants – deep-rooted plants that obtain water from permanent ground supplies or from the water table – including tamarisk, Russian olive and Siberian elm. These plants present a threat to Colorado’s water supply.

For the South Platte River project, the WCYCC crew will clear invasive vegetation from three protected properties located along the South Platte River in Weld and Morgan Counties. This work will improve the river channel habitat for waterfowl and other wildlife and reduce consumptive water use. The project will start at Weld County Road 1 and extend about three linear miles toward the confluence with the South Platte River.

“The partnership between CYCA and CWCB support WCYCC to provide a more meaningful experience for the youth we serve while enabling us to provide service to the community,” said WCYCC Crew Leader Dave Woolman. Tina Booton with Weld Weeds added “this is an excellent opportunity for the Weld County Youth Conservation Corps to help landowners and the environment by removing two devastating noxious weeds from the riparian area of the St. Vrain River. Both tamarisk and Russian olive trees consume a large amount of water, displace native vegetation and impact wildlife habitat.”  

The WCYCC proposal was one of eight proposals representing $105,000 in requests for 14 weeks of work to mitigate these plants throughout the state. The goals of the awarded funds are to provide job training and experience for Colorado’s youth and young adults, and to support the invasive control efforts of land owners who have limited resources to accomplish the projects.

The WCYCC engages its corps members in meaningful community and conservation (land, water, energy) service projects throughout Weld County. From 8-week summer crews to year-round crews, WCYCC serves youth and young adults ages 14-24. WCYCC is backed and supported by the Board of Weld County Commissioners, and operates through the Employment Services of Weld County offices (Dept. of Human Services).