Wyoming Conservation Corps Performs Restoration Projects in Grand Teton

WCC team helps improve interpretive path
in Grand Teton near the historic Murie Ranch
June 14, 2010
A Wyoming Conservation Corps (WCC) team of students from the University of Wyoming (UW) spent several days in Grand Teton National Park working on restoration and trail improvement projects in the Jenny Lake area and near the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center at Moose, Wyoming. The WCC team also completed projects at the historic Murie Ranch in the park, and they are scheduled to carry out several projects on the National Elk Refuge.

The crew of six students plus two crew leaders replaced wooden benches in the Jenny Lake campfire circle where park ranger naturalists give their evening twilight talks throughout the summer. The assortment of old lodgepole pine and plank benches at the campfire circle have been in place for over 20 years and time had taken its toll on the wooden seats. The weathered and rotten benches were replaced with new ones made from Engelmann spruce trees harvested in Wyoming outside of Grand Teton.

The WCC crew also helped improve an interpretive path that connects the Craig Thomas Discover and Visitor Center with the historic Murie Ranch. The half-mile-long path allows visitors an opportunity to stroll past blue spruce forests and sagebrush meadows to get a glimpse of the wilderness values that the Muries fought so hard to protect. The final destination of the path, the Murie Ranch, was home to Olaus, Mardy, Adolph and Louise Murie, and it served as the nexus for the modern American conservation movement.

The WCC program, founded in 2006, is an AmeriCorps program supported by the University of Wyoming Environment and Natural Resources Department. Their mission is to connect young adults with a diverse array of hands-on natural resource and environmental management experiences, and to promote leadership through the completion of service projects that benefit lands in Wyoming. Teams of students spend the summer working on habitat restoration and construction projects in partnership with state and federal agencies. Last summer, 39 students contributed more than 28,000 service hours, and in summer 2010, 48 students are scheduled to work on WCC projects.

“We appreciate the hard work of the WCC team and their willingness to take on rehabilitation projects in Grand Teton that the park cannot otherwise accomplish,” said Deputy Superintendent Bob Vogel. “We also appreciate the conservation values promoted by student conservation programs, such as WCC, and we hope participants in this program will become inspired to seek future employment with the National Park Service.”

Park ranger naturalists offer their twilight talks at the Jenny Lake campfire circle each evening at 7 p.m. A ranger-led walk called “Voices for Wilderness” takes place at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesdays and Saturdays from the Discovery Center. These free, ranger-led programs provide participants with an educational experience, as well as the chance to see the handiwork of the WCC team.