Summer of Service Blog Series: Bison, Burrowing Owls, Bucks and Bald Eagles

You’ve got just a few weeks left to apply for a Summer of Service job with Mile High Youth Corps. Spend the summer outside building trails, using chain saws, making friends, earning money and helping conserve Colorado’s beatiful spaces. Apply for a day or camping crew member position here.

Check out current Conservation Alumni Mentor Steve Lynch’s blog from his experience on a Summer of Service crew last year:

The wind rustles the leaves of cottonwoods; crisp fall air fills my lungs. Ahead, a six-pointed buck ambles through the tall grasses. High in the sky, a bald eagle watches its young take flight. Elsewhere in the park, bison roam the grasslands, dodging prarie dogs and burrowing owls. Standing here, in the middle of the twenty-six square mile wildlife refuge known as the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, it is difficult to remember that I am mere miles from downtown Denver. More astonishing is the fact that this place was once home to the most polluted square mile on planet Earth.

As a sawyer on the Trailblazer crew, and then on the Fall Forestry crew, I have spent ten weeks at the Arsenal felling literally thousands of Russian Olive trees. I have seen bison, burrowing owls, bucks and bald eagles. I have seen two fully stuffed tigers, a rhineceros head, hundreds of snakeskin boots, and (yes) a belt made from the head of a cobra. (These items, and many more, are contained in the Repository, a warehouse filled with confiscated wildlife paraphernalia.) I have nearly stepped on a rattle snake, I boast permanent scars from the thorns of Russian Olives, and I’ve destroyed numerous pairs of boots, chaps, pants, gloves and eye protection.

But the experience has been once-in-a-lifetime. The Arsenal is an exceptionally unique place, and my time spent there has been rewarding. The work seems daunting, but to look across a field and see a stand of giant cottonwoods unencumbered by invasive, aggresive and unsightly Russian Olive trees is very rewarding. Helping restore the Rocky Mountain Arsenal to its original habitat has been eye-opening: the stark contrast between the ugly thickets of Russian Olives and the majestic beauty of cottonwood trees reaffirms the importance of the work that we do.
-Steve Lynch


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