Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado
By Irene Shonle
On August 3, about 30 youth from the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado first annual Youth Stewardship Summit worked on an ongoing oxeye daisy control project at East Portal, the trailhead to the James Peak Wilderness. The oxeye daisy project just celebrated its ten-year anniversary of stewardship this year; it has been an ongoing collaboration between the USDA Forest Service, the Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, and CSU Extension in Gilpin County. In addition to the youth, some of the long-term volunteers on the project returned to help.
Over the years of work, we have reduced the numbers of the invasive alien weed from a thick monoculture which choked out the lovely wildflowers in the area to many fewer plants in between all the native flowers. The seed bank in the soil may finally be depleted with a few more years of work, and the area will become oxeye daisy-free.
The youth from Youth Stewardship Summit enthusiastically and determinedly tackled the oxeye; by the time their stint was done at noon, the trailhead looked beautiful. Monkshood, five-nerved sunflower, sulfur flower, harebells and more shone in the sun, and (if it’s possible for a plant), looked happy to be released from the oppressive presence of the oxeye daisy. The many hikers in the area learned about the project and the problems that oxeye daisy cause from an oxeye daisy-costumed Master Gardener, strategically placed at the trailhead. Most of the hikers thanked the youth for their work in preserving the environment of the wilderness.
The Youth Stewardship Summit took place in Gilpin County from August 1-4 with camping at the Pickle Gulch Group Campground. Participants had to apply to be accepted to the program, and came from High Schools around the state. The focus of the program was on stewardship, outdoor recreation, environmental education, and leadership training. The youth also got to participate in flyfishing, hiking, and ghost-town tours, and as the evenings rolled around, they heard speakers around the campfire on topics such as environmental ethics, wilderness leadership, and astronomy. In addition to their great work on the East Portal Oxeye daisy project, they did some habitat restoration, historic preservation, and some trail maintenance.
Irene Shonle is the CSU Extension Office Director in Gilpin County, located at the Exhibit Barn, 230 Norton Drive, Black Hawk, CO 80422, 303-582-9106, www.extension.colostate.edu/gilpin.
Colorado State University Extension provides unbiased, research-based information about, horticulture, natural resources, and 4-H youth development. Colorado State University Extension is dedicated to serving all people on an equal and nondiscriminatory basis.