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Youth Conservation Corps

YCC-2009 Crew doing Drift Fence Work "The Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a summer employment program for young males and females from all segments of society, who work, learn and earn together by doing projects on public land. "

YCC LogoThe stated purpose of the YCC is to further the development and maintenance of the natural resources of the United States by America's youth, and, in so doing, to prepare them for the ultimate responsibility of maintaining and managing these resources for the American people. There are three equally important objectives as reflected in the law:


  • Accomplish needed conservation work on public lands.  
  • Provide gainful employment for young males and females from all social, economic, ethnic, and racial classifications.  
  • Develop an understanding and appreciation in the participating youth of the Nation's natural environment and heritage.  

YCC-2010 Crew doing Aquatic Sampling WorkThese objectives are accomplished in a manner that provides the youth with an opportunity to acquire increased self-discipline. They learn work ethics, how to relate to peers and supervisors, and how to build lasting cultural bridges with youth from other backgrounds.

The Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 provided the economic resources to reestablish the YCC program here at Lee Metcalf in 2009 after a 22 year hiatus. It continued through 2012; the Refuge considers the program a success and thanks all youth and adult supervisors for their involvement and excellent accomplishments. The 2012 YCC field season summary from crew leader Matthew Erickson follows:

YCC-2011 Crew doing Environmental Ed for Scouts"The 2012 YCC had a great season in which a diverse crew came together as an efficient team completing many tasks and forming strong bonds with the landscape as well as each other. Our crew of 4 all live in the Bitterroot Valley, however not all crew members had previously been to Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge or has spent much time outdoors.

During our first field trip, the crew made a short, 1-mile hike up the Big Creek trail in the Bitterroot Mountains identifying as many plant species as possible. Bird banding at the MPG Ranch was another fantastic educational opportunity in which the crew witnessed at least a dozen captures and bandings. They learned basics on how to assess physical characteristics used to identify the species, sex, age, and other specifics of a particular bird being cataloged and banded. The YCC crew also visited the Boone and Crocket Club in Missoula, MT, where they sketched many skeletal fabrications of YCC-2012 Crew doing Native Shrub Plantingassorted big game species, highlighting the differences of the skeletal components of closely related species such as the black, brown and Kodiak bears. We also discussed the various notions and contemporary implications of several quotations of a number of esteemed naturalists and conservationists, such as those of Teddy Roosevelt and Aldo Leopold, which can be found on plaques installed outside the headquarters’ main entrance.

The majority of the crew’s days involved noxious weed removal in the morning, when the temperature was conducive to hard labor, and watering of native plants in the afternoon. Throughout the summer, weed removal was of utmost priority. We removed, by shovel and brawn, 243 bags of Houndstongue from the refuge with each bag containing, on average, 72 individual plants. Along with Houndstongue, the crew removed musk YCC-WVA Fence Replacement Workthistle, mullein, pennycress, cheatgrass, and tumble mustard.

As well as plant removal, in the early season the crew was engaged in planting native plants of which there were 194 dogwood, 95 hawthorn and 131 ponderosa pine. This was done to increase the species diversity and the “gallery forest” of targeted areas.

Other finished projects included clearing thickening stands of cattails at photoblinds 1 and 2 along the Kenai trail, removing an electric fence that was used during the 2011 season to hem in cattle mobilized at pond 8 for prescribed cattail grazing, harrowing the north end of the maintenance yard and seeding it with grass to impede the advancing cheatgrass, vehicle washing, and lastly, but certainly not least, assisting staff with Osprey and duck brood surveys."


Last Updated: Feb 21, 2014
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