With shovels and shears in hand, three young people worked away in the heat of the day to fix up the Mud Lake Road.
The three are members of the Green Team, of the Conservation Corps of Newfoundland and Labrador a non-profit organization that provides training and work experience to young people aged 16-30. Green Team members are involved in a range of community-focused projects across the province related to conserving the environment and cultural heritage preservation.
This last week, Regional Supervisor of the Conservation Corps NL, Heidi Kavanagh, whose home base is in St. John’s, recently visited central Labrador to work alongside local Green Team members Christopher Burton, Tanner Acreman and Mitchell Rich.
The walking/cyclist trail is a crushed gravel treated surface that stretches approximately seven kilometers and is alongside the Churchill River. The trail has been exclusively designed for walkers and cyclists and is prohibited to ATV and off-road vehicles.
The project for the Mud Lake trail system started four years ago and for the past three seasons has been maintained by Green Team members of the Conservation Corps.
“We’ve been spreading topsoil over the last couple of days and planting trees, we haven’t added gravel yet, but we’ve been clearing away the brush in the trail, making it wider and planting grass,” said Burton.
Burton said he was looking for a summer job and the Green Team opportunity seemed like a good option.
“Lots of outdoor experience and I get public speaking experience as well, and it’s a great experience overall,” he said. “You get to meet new people, like we did in training camp in Corner Brook and stuff like that.”
In the first week of the program, Kavanagh said ver 100 Green Team youth from across the provinces traveled to the island of Newfoundland for special training related to conservation and on-the-job safety.
During her visit to Labrador, she said the team also assisted in an Environmental Awareness presentation for Summer Rec youth at the EJ Broomfield Memorial Arena on issues related to climate change.
A range of CCNL projects across the province included one in Battle Harbour, Labrador, that involve a restoration team that’s been cleaning the area and making it esthetically pleasing for the tourist season.
“There’s a multitude,” Kavangah said in regards to the work projects. “ I have a salmon restoration team, where they’re trying to reintroduce the salmon species into rivers around St. John’s. There’s another team in Marystown trying to clean up and start up a recycling program at their community centre.”
“Community groups that have a need for work experience for youth can apply for Green Team and they can have people working for them; the Conservation Corp will provide funding for them,” added Kavangah.
Like Burton, Acreman said he saw the job opportunity as a chance to get outside and gain some work experience.
He said when the weather gets too rough they head inside, but so far this summer the weather has allowed the trio to spend most days outside.
“It’s a good job for outdoors, you know, it’s good fun, out in the wild,” added Mitchell Rich.
He says the team will be continuing to do a little bit of everything in the coming weeks; including spreading topsoil, clearing away brush, planting trees and putting down grass seed along the sides of the trail. The Green Team members also said they are planning to upgrade the trail with rest stops that will include picnic tables to overlook the river.
In the future, Kavanagh says she hopes to see a continuation of sponsorship to maintain the Mud Lake trail system.
She said being one of the few walking trails available to residents it’s exciting to see youth be a part of keeping the trail system in a presentable and preserved state and hopes it will draw tourists to the site.