NYC and National Park Service Partnership Report | 2023
[banner image above: 2023 ASL Inclusion Crew serving at Mount Rainier National Park]
“I have gained so much from this experience: lifelong friends, a passion for the outdoors, important life skills, and most importantly, an understanding of the world around me.”
– Juniper, Rainbow crew member
During its 40-year history, Northwest Youth Corps has enjoyed a long partnership with the National Park Service’s Columbia Pacific Northwest Region, one which has grown significantly in the last eight years. This year, generous and pivotal NPS support allowed NYC to extend even further the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation, as we engaged new audiences of young people in ecosystem restoration, imperiled species recovery, and visitor infrastructure enhancement.
All these intrinsic values of our Northwest national parks are at risk from the effects of climate change, which threaten to expand invasive species and fragment habitats for native species. In locations currently covered with snow, hydrologic systems are especially vulnerable as watersheds become increasingly rain dominated, resulting in more autumn/winter flooding, higher peak flows, and lower summer flows.
Northwest Youth Corps is proud to be part of efforts to increase the resilience of systems at our regional parks, to help natural systems and species to adapt to change. In partnership with NPS, NYC crews help mitigate climate change by maintaining trails for recreational users and resource managers; removing exotic plants to preserve intact habitats; installing erosion control devices to handle increased rain; thinning to reduce plant stress; and planting native drought-tolerant species. After each workday, each crew engages in NYC’s accredited curriculum to learn more about climate change as well as other important educational topics. At the same time, we support National Park Service’s goals of building a more inclusive workforce; and giving diverse young Americans – often underrepresented in the outdoors – opportunities to serve and recreate at a National Park.
From the desk of the Superintendent:
“Northwest Youth Corps (NYC) is a highly valued partner and asset for Mount Rainier National Park. Special places don’t stay special by accident; NYC participants contribute significantly to this park’s preservation and enhancement. Enjoy the trails in Mount Rainier NP’s backcountry? Then thank the NYC -they’ve performed a significant role in trail construction and conservation for decades.
NYC engages young individuals – many from underrepresented, diverse, or urban communities – in meaningful conservation work, helping to maintain the park’s natural environment and scenic landscapes for visitors from the world over. NYC participants conduct trail maintenance, habitat restoration, and erosion control projects which not only enhance the park’s aesthetic appeal, but also helps ensure its long-term sustainability.
In accomplishing this work, NYC instills a sense of stewardship and environmental awareness, fostering deep-rooted connections with nature, and empowering participants to become future conservation leaders. Some currently on our staff are NYC alumni. Park employees and visitors both benefit from the talents, energy, and the physical and fiscal resources NYC brings to Mount Rainier National Park. ‘Sharing the trail’ with NYC crews has been one of the summer seasons’ highlights as we ‘protect and share’ this park together.”
– Greg Dudgeon, Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park