Char-Koosta News

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Budget sequestion puts an end to Youth Conservation Corps

For the past three summers, the Creston Fish Hatchery, and Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, along with Salish Kootenai College, has sponsored the Youth Conservation Corps(YCC), which provided more than 30 summer jobs for high school students. The program exposed local students to natural resource management careers and provided hands-on experience to demanding outdoors work.

“Due to federal budget cuts, Flathead Indian Reservation youth will lose the opportunity to gain valuable work experience in the outdoors this summer,” said Rich Janssen, Department Head of Tribal Natural Resources.

In years past, CSKT YCC summer employees worked with the Natural Resource Department, the FWS National Bison Range, and Salish Kootenai College.

“They helped build bridges in the backcountry, clean and repair campgrounds, and among other things, worked at Salish Point swimming and boating area in Polson,” Janssen said. “They gained valuable experience while improving the outdoor recreational experience for everyone. This is the kind of cut that hurts our entire community by limiting options for our youth.”

Mark Maskill, manager of the USFWS Creston Fish Hatchery, has focused on projects to reconnect youth with nature.

“YCC is an excellent tool to accomplish that. It teaches outdoor skills and an appreciation for natural resources while helping develop good work ethics so they can become more employable. The jobs are always changing, they are working at different locations and they are learning a variety of skills.”

Maskill said the goal of the USFWS is to have similar YCC programs on each of the seven Indian reservations in Montana. The Flathead Reservation was the first to come on board primarily because of its close proximity to the Creston Fish Hatchery.

“Hopefully, this program will come back in the future,” Maskill said.

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