guy shovel

Volunteer Guy Dooley, a member of the Fayette County Urban Renewal Authority, shovels gravel to help create a temporary road.

They came to Fayette County from across the country, working together as the team they’ve become. They are young people, aged 18-24, who’ve joined a program called AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) in an effort to make a difference.

The official mission of AmeriCorps NCCC, according to its Web site at www.americorps.gov/about/programs/nccc.asp, is “to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service… Drawn from the successful models of the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s and the U.S. military, AmeriCorps NCCC is built on the belief that civic responsibility is an inherent duty of all citizens and that national service programs work effectively with local communities to address pressing needs.”

And the young men and women who visited Fayette County did indeed address a pressing need.

“The project has come a very long way in a short time,” said Dave Pollard, Fayette County resource coordinator. “I don’t have the expertise and the commitment from the community to get people out here every day and get this kind of work done. I can’t imagine how much it would have cost us to do (what AmeriCorps NCCC did).”

The 10-member crew left Fayette County over the weekend, headed for the John Henry Park in Summers County, after constructing several hundred feet of a boardwalk through the wetlands at the New River Birding and Nature Center at Wolf Creek Park.

“Eventually we’ll go 2000 feet to connect the wetlands,” Pollard said.

The goal of the Center is to be an educational tool for local school children, as well as other residents and those who travel to the area.

“Every month we’re going to have things we’ll be doing,” Pollard said. “We have a great outdoor classroom here.”

The AmeriCorps team had come to Fayette County after a stint in Bay of St. Louis, Miss., rehabilitating Hurricane Katrina-damaged homes, and was going on to John Henry to do some trail work and campground rehab.

“There’s a lot of variety in the program,” said Jordan Mohr of Greensboro, N.C. “It’s an awesome, awesome program.”

The boardwalk, which exceeds ADA standards, will allow visitors to walk into the wetlands. A viewing platform also has been constructed from which Bill Hilton Jr., consulting director of the New River Birding and Nature Center, or others can teach. Hilton even had a chance to teach the AmeriCorps NCCC workers some nature facts during their stay.

“The wetlands have been incredible for this time of year,” Pollard said. “We’ve had salamanders and tadpoles and everything else.”

Volunteers with the Center also are conducting an ongoing comprehensive flora and fauna inventory of the 1,000-acre plot.

For more on Wolf Creek Park and the New River Birding and Nature Center, see upcoming editions of The Fayette Tribune.

— E-mail:

ckeenan@register-herald.com

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