COLORADO – Hoping to put it back into public service as an overnight rental, the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest enlisted the HistoriCorps Institute and eight Collbran Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center students to restore Hog Park Guard Station along the Colorado-Wyoming border.
Collbran Job Corps floor covering student Marco Rodriguez, along with carpentry students Casey Mccarty, Xavier Bigley, Cedrick Lowry, Alexandro Medina, Severn Black and William Vastine, replaced wall logs, re-shingled the roof with hand-cut shake cedar shingles, repaired the stone foundation and regraded the surrounding landscape to protect the foundation of the historic structure. Collbran journeyman carpenter Skyler Altonen and union floor covering instructor Tony Pedregon oversaw the students’ work.
After the restoration efforts wind up on August 16th, the public will be able to enjoy the oldest standing guard station on the Routt National Forest. The Collbran students, who all had an extraordinary experience, may one day return with their children to showcase their efforts to help protect this historic resource--and may even stay for an overnight visit.
“I am Native American and it was good to participate in a multicultural project with people from different backgrounds,” said carpentry student Severn Black. “We lived and ate together while refurbishing a historical cabin, rescuing history for future generations to witness and understand.”
Hog Park Guard Station was constructed between 1910 and 1912 and there are only eleven examples of Forest Service structures from this era within Colorado. The cabin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.
Because they possess the necessary skills to complete preservation construction projects, USDA Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center students are sought out by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the HistoriCorps Institute to help protect America's historic and archeological resources on public lands. These projects are a great opportunity for the students to get hands-on experience, while developing new skills and learning about and preserving pieces of history.
New skills acquired by the Collbran students included learning how to fit flashing up against a chimney and trimming and installing historically accurate wood shingles. “We learned to trim wood with a trimming tool called a draw knife,” said Alexandro Medina. “It’s super useful to make wood trims perfect but it’s also a very dangerous tool. You have to wear an extra layer of safety pants to be 100% certain to protect your legs.”
Recently, the Schenck Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center, located on the Pisgah National Forest was also tapped for a restoration project. Organized as a Hands-On Preservation Experience Crew, eight African-American students enrolled in Schenck’s pre-apprenticeship painting program repaired and re-painted the exterior of musician and Civil Rights activist Nina Simone’s birth place in May 2019. Simone’s house was named a National Treasure in 2018.
Working a combined 552 hours, the Schenk Job Corps HOPE Crew replaced and repaired rotting lap wood siding, removed loose and failing lead paint, and applied primer to encapsulate any remaining lead paint. Five Hope Crew members earned Occupational Safety and Health Administration Lead Renovator Initial Certification credentials.
The restoration of Simone’s childhood home was the inaugural project of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, led by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. This fund is dedicated to engaging African American youth in the preservation trades at sites tied to African American achievement and activism.
The combined activities of construction trade training, community college course work and real world projects like Simone’s home and Hog Park Cabin provide Forest Service Job Corps students with credentials that could put them on a career path in historic preservation, a growth area in which carpentry jobs are anticipated to grow 24% over the next two decades.
Collbran and Schenck Job Corps’ contributions to these historical restoration projects is yet another example of how Forest Service Job Corps students support and conduct work that enhances the nation’s public lands while provide leading-edge vocational training to underserved youth. Their efforts directly support the agency’s strategic plan’s out-come oriented goals of delivering benefits to the public and excelling as a high-performing agency while sustaining our nation’s forests and grasslands.