Natural fencing and new benches will be placed at popular recreation areas in the towns of Salida, Poncha Springs and Buena Vista, as the Southwest Conservation Corp completes a project funded by Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO).
Southwest Conservation Corps (SCC) sawyer crews thinned stands of lodgepole pine in local forests to reduce wildlife danger. The wood was then used to make natural-looking containment fencing and simple benches for the towns to protect natural areas, decrease erosion and offer a place for people to sit while enjoying parks and open spaces.
SCC’s Chaffee County High School Youth Crew built the benches, placing six at the Vandaveer Ranch Open Space near Salida in June.
The benches turned out really well, matching the landscape using a simple design meant to weather well over time, said SCC Regional Director Anna Hendricks.
Buck-and-rail fencing is wildlife friendly and can protect habitat and wetlands. The youth crew started this phase of the project by constructing over 150 feet of fencing at the Vandaveer Ranch in June.
More fencing will be built this fall at Vandaveer Ranch, the base of S-Mountain in Salida, Poncha Springs Disc Golf Course, and popular recreation areas in Buena Vista. Each of these locations was prioritized by city and town managers to prevent erosion, protect vegetation and minimize impact to water resources.
SCC provides youth, young adults and veterans with challenging service and educational opportunities through projects that promote personal growth and an ethic of natural resource stewardship.
The Healthy Forests, Fences and Benches project serves the organization’s mission well, Hendricks said, because it includes public service components, from reducing wildfire danger to protecting wildlife to improving the outdoors for residents and visitors. “Any project we take on has to have that piece of public good, it has to serve ecosystems and also the communities we serve.”
It’s such a win when we come together as a community.”Southwest Conservation Corps Regional Director Anna Hendricks
The project supports priorities in the Chaffee County Outdoor Recreation Management Plan by helping to address the impacts of growth in recreation, protect water and wildlife habitat from this use, and provide equitable access to the outdoors.
In addition to the three municipalities, project partners include Lake and Chaffee counties, Envision Chaffee County, Arkansas River Watershed Collaborative (ARWC) and Chaffee County Fire Protection District, which hauled materials from the forest mitigation sites. San Isabel National Forest Salida and Leadville Ranger Districts, Colorado State Forest Service and ARWC identified priority forested sites that were thinned.