Nine youth participants and five adult leaders camped at the Pumphouse Campground from Monday, June 14 through Wednesday, June 16, 2010. None of the inner-city youth participants had visited the Upper Colorado River Corridor before, so this project exposed them to a new part of the state and showed them the complexity of managing popular outdoor recreation areas on public lands. The youth worked in teams to prepare meals, including over a campfire, and complete other campsite tasks.
The youth participated in hands-on activities focused on Leave No Trace river camping ethics, bird identification, use of field guides, and astronomy. The youth particularly enjoyed an activity that demonstrated why packing out human waste from river campsites is important. They were amazed by how much waste, simulated with orange flagging tape, would accumulate if it was not packed out. There was also immeasurable value in unstructured time in the outdoors, which the youth experienced during lunch and evening breaks.
On the first day of the project, the group completed a one-day rafting trip from Radium to Rancho del Rio, with a stop at the “Benches” river campsite. At this campsite, the volunteers improved the campsite condition by helping the BLM convert two backcountry outhouses to pack-it-out style privacy screens for portable river restrooms, known as “groovers.” Volunteers dug and transported sand to cover the old outhouse bases.
On the second work day, volunteers installed post and cable barriers in a new loop of the Pumphouse campground. The youth helped sink wooden posts in the ground and compact soil around them. They also strung cable between the posts to delineate the edge of the road and prevent vehicles from damaging native vegetation. Through this, they learned how management of heavily-impacted areas, such as campgrounds, leads to sustainable recreation opportunities.
Three BLM staff from the Kremmling Field Office participated in this project, and worked closely with youth participants to supervise the stewardship components of the project. Through hands-on work, the youth participants learned about resource management careers with the BLM. The youth were particularly impressed that the management of river campsites requires BLM staff to use rafts for transportation. The youth also learned about the planning required to maintain healthy ecosystems, including the use of tools such as controlled burns.