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North Carolina Young Adults Work with Volunteers to Restore Black Mountain Crest Trail

CCNC Crew Members Alicia Pennachio and Peter Chege using a crosscut saw on a downed tree.
A Conservation Corps North Carolina (CCNC) crew of young adults worked with volunteers from the North Carolina High Peaks Trail Association to complete high priority trail work on the Black Mountain Crest Trail in the Nantahala National Forest. 

The CCNC crew consisted of five 18 to 24 year-old AmeriCorps Members led by a trained Crew Leader. The crew worked on the Black Mountain Crest Trail project August 3-12. Together, crew members and volunteers completed 7.3 miles of trail maintenance from the base of Celo Knob at Bolen’s Creek to Deep Gap. The group constructed large drains to reduce erosion and cleared the corridor with brush cutters to make the trail more accessible for hikers. The CCNC crew camped in the backcountry near the project site the entire time they worked.

The Black Mountain Crest Trail project was one of several projects the CCNC crew worked on for the United States Forest Service (USFS.) The crew worked for seven weeks doing trail construction and maintenance for the USFS in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests. Their other projects in the National Forest included completing three miles of trail maintenance on the Sassafras Creek and Snowbird Creek trails in the Cheoah District and removing 62 fallen trees while doing trail maintenance on Shinbone Ridge in the Tusquitee District.
Conservation Corps North Carolina is a program of Conservation Legacy, a national program that supports CCNC and other local programs across the nation. Conservation Corps program are a legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and engage youth and young adults on high priority conservation projects that protect ecosystems and restore, improve, and protect North Carolina’s public lands and outdoor recreation resources.
The CCNC crew camped in the back country near their work sites just over three miles up the trailhead from Bolen’s Creek on the slopes of Celo Knob for ten days. They worked water erosion issues on the Black Mountain Crest Trail as well as cleared the trail corridor of growth and debris from Bolen’s Creek to Deep Gap August 3 through August 14.
“These young adults worked incredibly hard, often amid all kinds of weather conditions, to restore and improve trails in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests so they are sustainable and offer visitors a more safe, welcoming, and enjoyable hiking experience,” said Jan Pender, CCNC Program Manager.  
“The CCNC crew was able to complete trail maintenance that simply never would have gotten done by our staff or dedicated volunteers of NC High Peaks alone,” said Michael Good, United States Forest Service Appalachian District Fire Management Officer. “They contributed hundreds of hours of work clearing the trail of debris and installing features to reduce trail erosion. We are grateful to everyone involved for making this work possible.”  
“CCNC has been a remarkable opportunity for me to work on last time in the wilds before I head out into the business world” said CCNC Crew Member Peter Chege, of Raleigh, NC and a recent college graduate. This was Peter’s second stint with CCNC. “The first time around helped pay for my college, but now I just want to enjoy these mountains, which remind me so much of my native home of Kenya.”
The CCNC crew members included crew leader Luke Knight of Erie, PA; Alysha Pennachio of Boone, NC; Drew Edelson of Charlotte, NC; Chase Perren of Oxford, NC; Travis Bosler of Spirit Lake, IA; and Peter Chege of Raleigh, NC.
The CCNC crew was sponsored by the United States Forest Service with additional support from the Duke Energy Foundation and Fred and Alice Stanback.
About Conservation Legacy
In 2019, Conservation Legacy engaged over 2,400 youth, young adults and veterans in conservation, restoration and community development projects and contributed 1.3 million hours of service to public lands. Conservation Legacy programs engage participants on diverse conservation and community service projects that provide opportunities for personal and professional development and meet the high priority needs of public land managers and community partners. 

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