Program runs July through October
By Katherine Nettles
The idea of a new seasonal land stewardship program in the valley has taken flight, and the Gunnison County Sustainable Tourism and Outdoor Recreation (STOR) committee, the National Forest Foundation (NFF) and Gunnison County have launched a “STOR Corps” with a two-fold purpose: creating economic opportunity for locals while making a positive impact on local trails. The “job-creation” program seeks to hire 10 full-time crewmembers for the summer.
The field season will start on July 13 and end in early October. Crewmembers will work on sustainable recreation and environmental stewardship projects on public lands throughout the Gunnison Valley.
According to Joe Lavorini, Gunnison County stewardship coordinator for the NFF, the program is based in part off the Civilian Conservation Corps model that was successful in the last century. Specific tasks will include user-outreach and education, monitoring and restoration.
The program is hiring two crew leaders, eight crewmembers and one volunteer coordinator. Wages will be “well above minimum wage,” according to Lavorini. Interviews will be conducted on a rolling basis, and local residents who apply will receive priority consideration. To apply, submit a cover letter and resume to Joe Lavorini at firstname.lastname@example.org
“The economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has caused hardship for many. This jobs-creation program will employ locals to be stewards of the community,” said Lavorini.
“We are lucky to live in a place that is surrounded by public lands, but we need to be proactive to conserve these treasured landscapes. The STOR Corps will assist our land management agencies in caring for the places that define the lifestyle of the Gunnison Valley,” he said.
The program will be managed jointly by the NFF and Gunnison County. Although the STOR Corps is independent of other community non-profit organizations, Lavorini says, “We anticipate collaborating with local groups like the Crested Butte Conservation Corps and Gunnison Trails, among others.”
Gunnison County Community and Economic Development director Cathie Pagano estimated that the cost of the program would be $140,000 to cover 12 weeks of work with 10 paid crewmembers.
The Gunnison County Tourism and Prosperity Partnership (TAPP) has agreed to contribute $5,000 to the program, the STOR committee has agreed to contribute $20,000 from its GOCO grant programming funds, Gunnison County commissioners have committed 45,000 in CARES funds, and the NFF will provide a match of $70,000.