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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Glance at the Student Conservation Association

SCA crew
SCA crew with agency and NCTA staff, and hikers (photo from JHY)

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condensed from Pathways Across America the publication of the Partnership for the National Trails System

What is the SCA?
SCA is the United States' largest youth conservation association. It provides young people with hands-on service opportunities in all sorts of outdoor pursuits. Participants might do such diverse tasks as tracking grizzlies in the Tetons, restoring desert ecosystems, or teaching environmental education. Probably best known by trail supporters is the great assistance the SCA provides in trail construction and re-construction.

Youth can get involved with SCA through programs which last anywhere from three weeks to a full year. Partners with the SCA include government agencies such as the National Park Service and National Forest Service, or with non-profits such as the North Country Trail Association.

How Do SCA Crews Help Trails?
Working in all 50 states and over 500 natural and cultural sites, SCA crews have contributed the following:
  • Backcountry and wilderness patrol
  • GIS/GPS Mapping
  • Habitat restoration and preservation
  • Inventory and monitoring
  • Trail maintenance and restoration
  • Visitor services and interpretation
  • Wildlife and fisheries management

How Does SCA Work?
Each opportunity for a crew is initiated by an agency or organization. A description of the project is prepared and the group then collaborates with the SCA to work out the details.

SCA members come from applicants across the country who are looking for ways to serve. Once selected they are trained and supervised by SCA leaders.

Administrative oversight is provided by SCA. This includes background checks, travel and living allowances, and occasionally medical insurance.

SCA members are volunteers, and the projects are funded through cost-sharing agreements with the partners.

How Has SCA Helped the North Country Trail?
One notable project was the rebuilding of trail through Slippery Rock Gorge, Pennsylvania, in the summer of 2006. The crew removed boulders which made the trail dangerous in wet conditions, created rock steps, improved drainage, benched and graded trail, and basically worked like dogs for a week in the mud. Now hikers have now idea of the work it took to create a safe and enjoyable half-mile of trail.

Bill Menke reports that three years ago an SCA crew built a mile of trail in Iron County WI.

See Dave Brewer's comment about an SCA crew that built a mile of quality trail at PA Gamelands 285 over a period of ten days last summer.

See Student Conservation Association


Dave With the Wampum Chapter said...

Good article Joan. Another project the SCA did for the North Country Trail was to build a mile of quality trail at PA Gamelands 285 over a period of ten days last summer. We figure it would have taken chapter members another year or so of weekly trailwork days to do what they did in just a short period of time. Good organization, great leadership, excellent young people! Pictures of that crew and their work are here:

Dave Brewer
Wampum Chapter

Sharkbytes (TM) said...

Thanks, Dave- I added a note to the main article about this, but it should probably be a whole article. Care to send me a little more info?