Chugach National Forest, in partnership with Chugachmiut, an Alaska Native nonprofit, has employed Alaska Native youth between the ages of 15 and 18 for six weeks during the summer. The teens were employed through Youth Conservation Corps. The YCC crew will work on a fire fuel reduction project and other natural resources projects, such as a project on the Russian River where the youth will install fencing, put up signs for visitors and help with trout surveys, general trail maintenance and archaeological projects that include native cache identification and surveys.
The fuels reduction project recognizes that removal of any flammable living or dead vegetation is essential to good forest management. Mitigating the risk of hazardous fuels around important infrastructure like radio towers, transportation networks, municipal watersheds and utilities is another reason fuels management is important. Hazardous fuel reduction projects also strengthen rural economic sustainability and increase opportunities for economic diversification. Restoring and maintaining healthy fire-adapted ecosystems keeps natural systems balanced and also reduces the risks to cultural and historic places.
These projects provide Alaska tribal youth equal opportunity and access to Forest Service programs. In addition, this YCC project will help the youth gain leadership and stewardship skills and strengthen tribal communities’ connection to the forest.