Jan. 14 presentation at Copper Mountain Conference Center will highlight findings and policy advice from Summit and Leadville middle-schoolers
By Bob Berwyn
SUMMIT COUNTY — After getting some on-the-ground forestry experience and participating in several classroom sessions and stakeholder debates about forest health issues, a group middle-schoolers from Summit and Lake counties will present their findings and policy recommendations at a Jan. 14 meeting in Copper Mountain’s conference center.
The Mountain Pine Beetle Youth Coalition program was funded by an $8,500 grant from the Copper-Frisco Environmental Fund, in partnership with Friends of the Dillon Ranger District. According to a press release, the program is a solution-oriented initiative … to foster a sense of community, inspire critical thinking, and teach the process of citizen action.
The environmental fund, launched in 2007, comes from donations from Copper Mountain and town of Frisco employees.
Keystone Science School program director Dave Miller said the students started the program with classroom sessions on the foundations of land management issues surrounding the mountain pine beetle epidemic. As part of that first step, participants also distributed surveys to local residents to get some public input.
Part two of the program is a service-learning component. During October, the students spent a day working with Forest Service rangers and volunteers replanting trees in the Officers Gulch area, where the Forest Service is considering a new campground. Miller said the group transplanted trees from a roadway into locations between future camp sites.
The field work was followed by a three-day residential stint at the Keystone Science School where students did research projects and learned how to address thorny issues with a scientific approach. At a mock town hall meeting, the young scholars assumed the role of various stakeholders, including tourism company owners, landowners, conservation biologists and environmentalists.
After summarizing what they learned about forest health and pine beetles, the students described the town hall process and their conclusions in their wrap-up notes.
“After a long discussion and many heated debates, we came up with some compromises that could possibly work for all the different stakeholders involved.”
Among other things, the youth coalition advocates for thinning on the border of public and private lands, and said real estate agents could thin trees on properties that are on the market.
To hear the full set of recommendations, attend the Pine Beetle Youth Coalition presentation Jan. 14 at 6 p.m, in the Ptarmigan Room at the Copper conference center. For more information, call Dave Miller at (970) 455-4229 or by e-mail at email@example.com.