Written by Miguel Olivas
The Forest Steward Youth Corps (FSYC) summer program provides many opportunities for New Mexico youth ages 16-25. The Forest Stewards Guild engages in education, training, policy analysis, research, and advocacy to foster excellence in stewardship/proper forest management. The FSYC invests in the next generation of forest stewards by providing training and experience to youth. The FSYC program provides crew members with ample amount of training in a variety of subjects such as Leave no Trace, CPR and first aid, species identification, trail maintenance, various types of forest monitoring, etc.
The 2021 Summer Program consisted of five crews spanning across northern New Mexico. FSYC crews are partnered with some of the US Forest Service districts (Las Vegas/Pecos, Coyote, Mountainair, and Mt. Taylor) as well as the natural resources department of Jemez Pueblo. In 2021 the program employed twenty-four individuals. We had five crew leaders and nineteen crew members.
The crew based out of the Pecos/Las Vegas Ranger district focused primarily on invasive species removal and fence installation. This crew completed 227 acres worth of invasive species removal (bull, musk, and Scotch thistle) over the course of nine weeks. In addition to 1.8 miles of newly constructed fence the Pecos/Las Vegas crew also had the opportunity to build a one-acre perimeter fence around an endangered species (Holy-Ghost Ipomopsis).
The crew based out of the Coyote district had a variety of projects including fencing, timber marking, habitat management (trick tank maintenance/ installation), trail maintenance, and sign implementation. The Coyote crew posted an astounding 60 informational signs and 4 kiosks near the Rio Chama, and 4.68 miles of newly installed fence.
The Mt. Taylor FSYC crew worked primarily on timber marking and fence repair. The crew gained valuable knowledge on how to timber mark for a specific prescription and identify tree defects such as mistletoe. The Mt. Taylor crew completed 80 acres of timber marking in the Zuni mountain range, and 8 miles worth of fence repair.
The Mountainair summer crew worked mostly removing and replacing fences as well as some trail building and maintenance. The crew cut corridor for trail and put in tread. Mountainair summer crew finished 7 miles of trail in the Manzano mountains. Mountainair’s Fourth of July fire effects float was featured in the Independence Day parade in Mountainair!
The Jemez Pueblo FSYC crew worked mostly removing invasive species (Russian olive and salt cedar) and a fence project. The crew followed saw teams treating Russian olive and salt cedar stumps with herbicide, clearing 10 acres of cottonwood understory of these species. The Jemez FSYC also completed a fence clearing/installation that was approximately 3,000 feet long.
15 of the 24 members will be going back to high school or college in the fall, 4 members will stay on with FSYC through the fall fire and fuels program. One summer FSYC member is staying on this fall working part-time in the Guild office and building professional skills through the Forest Stewards Mentorship Program.
Editor’s note: During the summer FSYC program, general safety and COVID safety were paramount. Program staff reviewed state mandates, local conditions and case counts weekly, and COVID protocols were put in place accordingly and observed by crews. When conditions allowed, crews were permitted to work without masks while outdoors.