Adventure awaits teens with Copper River watershed ties

Application period open for 2019 Copper River Stewardship Program

Participants eat lunch next to the Kennecott River near McCarthy on a sunny day in the Copper Basin. Photo courtesy BLM/for The Cordova Times

Teenagers eager for adventure are invited to apply for the 2019 Copper River Stewardship Program, scheduled for July 16-27.

For over a decade, this program has provided an eye-opening opportunity to explore the watershed from the headwaters to the delta and make friends from diverse communities.

The CRSPis a 10-day trip that includes science, wilderness exploration, writing, service projects, and other elements designed to grow awareness of the scale, diversity and complexity of the Copper River Watershed. It is open to youth in grades 8-12 who have significant ties to the watershed, as well as students from the Copper Basin, Cordova and Valdez areas. The program also welcomes participant with strong cultural or family ties to the region.

The adventure is a little different every year, but always includes time spent both in the Copper River Basin and the Copper River Delta near Cordova. Activities have included rafting, canoeing, hiking and camping. This year’s theme is “Stories in the Landscape,” so we plan to explore geology and learn the stories of the land and people.

A day spent maintaining Dusky Canada Goose nest islands on the Copper River Delta with the U.S. Forest Service is a highlight for many stewards. From left, Lindsay Gordon, Nick Docken (USFS), Mia Creswell-Siebenmorgan, Russ Scribner (NPS), Tia Wade, Alana Esguerra and Cozmo Harder.
Photo courtesy CRSP/for The Cordova Times

Applications are due March 29. The cohort of 10 youth will be chosen to represent the diversity of communities and backgrounds in the region. For many participants, a highlight is the strong friendships that are formed when they camp, eat, travel and learn together for 10 days. Copper Basin youth marvel at the civilized amenities of Cordova and the size of the temperate rain forest, while their downstream friends wonder “will we EVER get there?” as they experience a typical van ride in the Copper River Basin.

Students can earn high school credit for their participation. The program has already been approved for credit by Copper River School District and Cordova schools. Students from other districts have had credit granted as well. To earn half an elective credit, students must participate in all aspects of the program, and create a final project which will share their experience with their community.

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If you’d like to learn what it is like to be a steward, check out the final projects posted on the Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment website, including videos, graphics and writing at www.wise-edu.org/copper-river-stewardship-program.html. The application packet can also be found at that location.

Learning is important, but there is also plenty of fun, including campfires, sliding in the mud of the Copper River Delta, and sharing good food and adventures with friends.

CRSP is presented annually by Copper River Watershed Project, Prince William Sound Science Center, U.S. Forest Service Cordova Ranger District, WISE, U.S. Bureau of Land Management Glennallen Field Office and the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

For more information or to receive an application packet, please contact CRWP at 907-424-3334 or [email protected], or PWSSC at 907-424-5800, extension 231 or email [email protected].

Robin Mayo is the executive director of Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment and a lead partner on the Copper River Stewardship Program.

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