Money promised to help Lake Tahoe is being put to use

For the past couple of months, a bunch of young people worked in and around the area of Hidden Beach building a restroom, formalizing trails and installing retaining fences.

The young workers are an example of Tahoe's Environmental Improvement Program in action.

They come from the Nevada Conservation Corps working for the Nevada State Parks on erosion control.

"We love to see young kids out there working to protect Lake Tahoe," Mark Kimbrough, state parks regional manager, said.

They have just received the EIP money, Kimbrough said, and it's the first time in state park history the agency has the resources and the money for a project of environmental improvement.

Even in a beautiful location, it's hard work.

Darin Bue, a program manager, and Mike Colpo, an AmeriCorps promise fellow, spent time Thursday, building a retaining wall behind the new restroom to stabilize the earth.

In order to build the restroom, the workers had to dig a big hole. Colpo and Bue cut large pieces of timber and manhandled them into the exposed remains of the hole as they completed the protective wall.

They've also worked on establishing new trails or building up existing trails.

"The thrust of the project is erosion control," Bue said. "The purpose is to reduce the amount of top soil getting into the lake from people walking off the trails."

They hope by making trails that are stable and well marked, people will use the trails and not wander through the brush, Bue said.

To improve the trails they used sections of existing trails and, where they could, directed the walkways down to the beach areas.

Bue said this would help protect the fragile environment of the area between the road, Highway 28, and the lake as much as possible.

The conservation corps also built steps at areas of steep access and continued work on a fence alongside the trail.

Colpo and Bue said at first people walking by seemed concerned about the workers presence.

"Now they see it taking shape, we've had nothing but good comments from folks walking by," Bue said.

Corey Lewis, another AmeriCorps promise fellow, said the corps will be involved in a variety of projects.

The next project in the area starts within a few weeks when the corps starts building a trail from Memorial Point to Sand Harbor, Lewis said. He added they hoped to complete the project by Oct. 15.

The NCC is also involved in forest health monitoring and forest stream restoration, as well as the Sugar Pine Restoration project which involves research, replanting and revegetation of a stand of old growth trees.

In 1933, during the Great Depression, President Roosevelt started the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The object was to put as many young men to work as possible. By the close of the program in 1942, more than two million young men had participated in the programs to conserve water, soil, forests and parks.

The Nevada Conservation Corps remained defunct for a number of years before Jerry Keir, NCC director, wrote a grant to the federal government last year, and with federal funds restarted a service program.

The NCC is staffed mostly by young AmeriCorps volunteers.

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