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Water: 5 Star Wetland Restoration & Grants

Workforce Boulder County, Colorado Project


Five-Star Restoration Program Descriptions

Workforce Boulder County, Colorado Project
EPA Region 8

Workforce Boulder County teamed up with the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department to provide a new environmental job experience for disadvantaged youth during the summer of 1998. Each brought unique resources to the project and also attracted additional partners to restore seven acres of wetlands at three county park sites.

Workforce Boulder County's summer youth employment program, funded by the Job Training Partnership Act, provides underprivileged young people with the opportunity to learn work-related skills while earning wages at different types of jobs. The Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department had identified wetland areas for restoration, but lacked funds to purchase plant materials or hire the labor necessary to clear and plant wetland areas.

A $10,000 Five Star Restoration Partnership grant from the National Association of Counties and the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds served as seed funding for the project. Grant funds were used to buy wetland plants and supplement transportation costs for the ten young people to work at three different sites. Additional project partners included the Boulder County Board of Commissioners, Boulder County Interpretive Field staff and Boulder County Weed District.

Interpretive Field and Weed District staff along with a plant ecologist used both indoor and outdoor classrooms to teach the youth participants about wetland ecology and hydrology, native habitat and wildlife and the impacts of streambank erosion on wetlands and watersheds. Staff salaries were an in-kind contribution to the project. Workforce Boulder County also provided a supervisor for the students who incorporated team building, communication and other job skills training into the educational program. In addition, Workforce Boulder County paid for the students' wages, transportation, and field equipment, totaling a two-to-one match of the initial grant. The overall project cost was approximately $40,000.

A combined total of seven acres of wetlands were restored on county lands at Rock Creek Farm, Pelican Marsh and Pella Crossing. Prior to planting, the young people cleared Russian olive trees, an invasive species and helped change the landscape profile to increase water levels. After planting the new wetland plants, the students collected and labeled seeds that will be sown at additional sites in the fall.

The rigorous outdoor work was new to the youth participants who were either from low-income minority families or living group homes. Most of the students did not know what a wetland was much less had spent time in one. One student admitted that he used to get bored in science class at school and wasn't interested in learning about different plant species, but by working on the summer project he "found out it's kind of neat to learn about that stuff."

EPA Grant Amount: $10,000
Matching Funmds: $30,000
Contact Information: Toya Speckman
Executive Director
Workforce Boulder County
2905 Center Green Court
Suite C
Boulder, CO 80301
Phone: (303) 441-3949
Fax: (303) 939-0054

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