Rocky Mountain Youth Corps seeks to expand Steamboat campus with new warehouse |

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps seeks to expand Steamboat campus with new warehouse

Laura Gahtan (left) and Eric McSwan of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps apply some leverage to their trail work on behalf of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative on Mount Bierstadt this summer.

— The Rocky Mountain Youth Corps is preparing to undertake the construction of a 3,083-square-foot steel warehouse at its campus just off 13th Street in Steamboat Springs that represents much more than secure storage of tools and camping equipment.

Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC), the expanding not-for-profit that puts almost 200 young adults ages 18 to 25 to work each summer carrying out conservation projects for public agencies, is growing and needs more administrative offices and gathering places for its crews.

"Right now, we're busting at the seams," RMYC Executive Director Gretchen Van De Carr said. "We have full-time staff sitting in the hall by the copy machine. This will create much more of a professional setting. It's very exciting."

The Youth Corps takes pride in raising the capabilities, work ethic and sense of their own capabilities of emerging adults with the hope that some of them will pursue a career in public lands conservation. The work includes trail building, some historic preservation and dead timber removal across Colorado and into Wyoming among other projects.

One of the high-profile projects undertaken by a RMYC crew this summer was rigorous trail work on heavily-visited Mount Bierstadt, one of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks close to Mount Evans in the Chicago Peaks.

RMYC's Associate Director Mark Wertheimer said the crew revegetated braided trails in hopes of directing the increasing number of hikers onto the main trail on behalf of the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative. In the process, the crew members were counseled on how to explain their mission in a way that would be well-received by members of the hiking public.

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////Building on past success////

RMYC closed on the $675,000 purchase of the historic Eckstein Ranch in October 2010 allowing it to move from rented quarters at Colorado Mountain College into the remodeled ranch house hidden in a grove of willow trees.

The new construction project, estimated at about $900,000, would put a newly insulated roof on the ranch house and enclose an existing deck on the ranch house while creating a new deck.

The two-story warehouse would accommodate a large meeting room in which work crews could gather, an office capable of housing three or four work stations, a kitchenette and ADA bathrooms. But the core purpose of the building is to store the increasing amount of gear RMYC owns.

"We have coolers and kitchen boxes in a lean-to and other gear in a garage that is our only secure storage," Van De Carr said. "We really need a place where we can work on stuff," like sharpening chainsaws and cleaning camp stoves.

The changes would also bring about the paving of 18 parking spaces on the dirt entrance lane to RMYC in an area of the city zoned for light industrial activity. The project has entered the city of Steamboat Springs planning process and is being considered for administrative approval.

The original purchase of the Eckstein Ranch was funded by a $765,000 USDA loan, which included $100,000 toward the remodeling of the ranch home. Van De Carr's first mission late this summer is to secure a new USDA line of credit to cover a portion of the estimated construction costs, then leverage that money with private contributions to be able to complete the project.

RMYC typically brings in $900,000 in revenue from the contracts it completes each summer, with virtually all of that going to modest wages for the crew members, who also have room and board covered. Another approximately $700,000 in annual revenue comes primarily from AmeriCorps and the state of Colorado.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1