BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The Now Bakersfield’s Tori Cooper followed the United States Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) along the Seven Tea Cups trail, to take a closer look at all the work they do to preserve the outdoors in Kern County.
The YCC is a summer youth employment program designed to encourage people ages 15 to 18 to put their free time and energy back into the environment to help them develop work ethic and civic responsibility.
The YCC spends eight to ten weeks out of their summer away from class doing something a little different than the average young adult, "We do lots of trail maintenance, we clean up campsites," 15-year-old YCC team member Carousel Enochs said.
Enouchs and her team work 40 or more hours a week building trails, maintaining fences, improving wildlife habitats, restoring streams and taking educational field trips to learn about the different job positions available within the U.S. Forest Service as well.
However, in this case on a new episode of Tori’s Trails, Cooper joined the team as they conducted their daily trail maintenance along the Seven Tea Cups Trail, that runs along side where the Kern River and Dry Meadow Creek both meet.
Enchos and her team guided Cooper 2.25 miles from the Johnsondale Bridge up the river trail to the bottom of what are called the Seven Tea Cups, which are a series of pothole waterfalls above where Cooper and Enchos stopped for a water break. The cups cascade down polished granite slabs meeting the Kern River. However, unfortunately there is not a forest service trail to get there.
According to the U.S. Forest Service this year marks 42 years ago that this river was declared as part of the, “Wild and Scenic Rivers Act,” passed by congress. The act provides protection for the rivers geological, scenic and recreational value. The act protects the cultural resources and the wild trout and 2018 is also the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
The team is learning to respect and to tend to the environment but for many this is also their fist job where they are learning core values along the trail. "I’m learning that I need a good work ethic, I need to work hard and I need to always be on time," Enouchs said.
The group of five is also predominantly women this year, which Enochs says is giving her strength in her identity, "It’s very empowering because usually only men are out on the forest."
The crew also uses their job as a way to enhance their health while being immersed in nature. Many track the number of steps they take on the job and their distance traveled using different phone apps.
There are large rocks embed in the trail that requires a keen sense of concentration for hikers. There are also areas where you can walk down safely to the water and put your feet in to cool off before you head back.
It took the crew and Cooper an hour and 30 minutes to hike to the bottom of the Seven Tea Cups trail. The entire trail from the bride and back is over 10 miles long so make sure you have a good pair of shoes, something to get wet in and of course to pick up your trash.
The YCC crew members told Cooper they love being able to make use of their summers in a productive way on a team with positive people who enjoy the outdoors. If you would like to join the crew next year you can contact the U.S. Forest Service by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org