Citizen Staff Writer
Crews have been repairing trails and the historic concrete and rock bridges at Sabino Canyon Recreation Area that were damaged by monsoon floods in 2006.
The Southwest Conservation Corps ended its work on trails last week.
Coronado National Forest officials called on the historic preservation crew of Tumacacori National Historical Park to repair the nine low-water crossings on the road to upper Sabino Canyon.
“They are the southwestern experts in masonry, adobe, lime, plaster, lots of different kinds of historic construction, and we’ve been very fortunate that they’ve been willing to come up here time and time again,” said Chris Schreger, restoration specialist with the Coronado National Forest and U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
Friends of Sabino Canyon, a nonprofit organization, raised money to hire the Southwest Conservation Corps to work on Box Camp and West Fork trails.
The corps, founded in 1998, is a nonprofit agency contracted to do a variety of outside work, from invasive species removal in parks to trash pickup along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The corps works in the Southwest, mostly southern Arizona. In addition to its Tucson office, it has two offices in Colorado and one in New Mexico.
The corps provides jobs for youths as young as 14 and accepts them from all over the country. Workers are paid $290 a week. Last year, 95 youths worked on 28 separate projects.
Josh Burt, program director for the corps, said Box Camp Trail lacked general maintenance and was “almost not a trail in places.”
The crew cleared the trail and built structures to prevent water erosion, said crew leader James Brown, 29, of Cortland, N.Y.
The crew on West Fork Trail worked mostly on cutting back vegetation.
Both crews camped out on the trails for the duration of their work.
“It’s just really gratifying to come out here and do something for the community around you and actually see the work you get done being put to use,” said Chris Loyd, 24, from St. Louis.
Crew leader Katie Schroeder, 23, from Midland, Mich., said working for the corps “has made me realize that I care about having opportunities for the public to spend time in the outdoors in a positive way.”
The low-water crossings were built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps and Works Progress Administration during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
The crossings were last repaired in 2003 and are tended to when needed, said David Yubeta, a historic preservation specialist with the National Park Service.
The crew of five and some extra volunteers worked on all nine crossings. The Forest Service has used $93,000 from its regular project money to pay for the repairs.
“We’re actually repairing them the way the CCC would’ve repaired them, using native material, native rock,” Yubeta said, “and that requires an artistic bent.”
Sabino Canyon bridges, trails get needed repairs
The Southwest Conservation Corps’ Tucson office wants to start an urban program to involve more local young people.
Participants ages 16 to 22 could attend school in the morning and work on urban conservation projects in the afternoon, executive director Kamillia Hoban said.
One potential project is revitalization on “A” Mountain.
The corps hopes that money from the pending federal stimulus bill will provide funding and that they can have an urban crew in place as early as March.
Southwest Conservation Corps
1376 W. St. Mary’s Road