Acadia Youth Conservation Corp balances work and learning

This year’s reimagined AYCC program gave participants the opportunity to work alongside multiple park division

Members of the Acadia Youth Conversation Corp (AYCC), Aidan Peppered, 17 (left), and Eva Crikelair, 17 (right), and Shelby Bentley, AYCC Crew Leader (middle) work to rehabilitate and replace a section of the bog walk along the Duck Harbor Trail on Isle au Haut in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Sam Mallon/Friends of Acadia)

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Seven people ages 15 to 18 took part this summer in Acadia’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program, which resumed in a new format following a two-year hiatus due to COVID.

“They spent roughly half the season doing trail work, which included erosion control,” said Erica Lobel, the program’s coordinator. “We spent another two weeks building a bog walk of maybe 250 feet on the Giant Slide Trail. We pulled out (parts of a bog walk) that had been there for probably 30 years or more and put in a new one.

“Then we did a lot of cutting back of vegetation from the trails,” Lobel said. “We did that all over the park, including four days on Isle au Haut.”

The 2022 Acadia Youth Conservation Corp poses for an end-of-season photograph at Headquarters front lawn in Acadia National Park. (Photo by Sam Mallon/Friends of Acadia)

The Acadia YCC was originally patterned after the federal Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which put young men to work on public projects. Between 1933 and 1942, CCC workers built trails, fire roads, fish hatcheries, dams, culverts and picnic areas in Acadia. They also worked in the forests, fighting insect infestations and fungal disease.

Prior to this year, the Acadia YCC participants did mostly trail work for the two months they were here.

“This year we changed it up a lot,” Lobel said. “We did vegetation management. We pulled thousands of glossy buckthorns, which is an invasive species, from the Kebo Brook Trail and the Great Meadow. We replanted a lot of plants at the Waterfall Bridge.