By LOHR McKINSTRY
---- — MORIAH — Swinging a shovel, dirt flying, Caleb Yelle hewed steps from the dirt embankment by Moriah’s McConley Spring.
Behind him, other members of the Moriah Youth Conservation Corps removed brush and picked up debris near the popular public spring on Tracy Road.
Yelle, 14, said it took them about to two weeks to finish a mile-long trail at the town-owned spring.
“We had to build a bridge over a stream; it’s stable. The trail circles around from the spring. It takes about 25 minutes to walk it.”
There are 13 Youth Conservation Corps participants this summer, and besides the spring, they’re working at the Moriah Town Hall, Highway Department garage, Moriah Central School and other places.
Conservation Corps supervisor Jody White said recently that the kids have been having a good summer working for the community.
“They’re a great bunch. At the spring right now, they’re picking up little things on the ground that people could trip over. They’re finishing the trail.”
Essex County Director of Community Resources Michael Mascarenas’s department helped the town get federal and county funding for the youth program.
“Through the years, hundreds of young people have come through the Youth Conservation Corps in Moriah,” he said. “For many of these youngsters, it is their first introduction into the workforce. In addition to cutting the trail at McConley Spring, the Youth Conservation Corps also completed many beautification projects throughout the town.”
He said that having another trail for recreation is a benefit to all.
“This particular group of young people should be proud of their accomplishments. They have constructed a trail at McConley Spring that can be utilized by Town of Moriah residents for years to come.”
Moriah Town Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava stopped by to check the progress of the Conservation Corps.
“It’s a nice little trail,” he said. “It’s a safe walk in the woods. We want to put a picnic table in here next year.”
He said the town bought the 30-acre property for $20,000 in 1989.
“We moved the spring (faucet) to the roadside. There are people who come here all the time to get water, which we have tested periodically to make sure it’s safe to drink. People have been good about keeping the spring area clean, too.”
HELPS THE TOWN
Scozzafava said that having the Youth Conservation Corps every summer is a huge benefit to the town.
“We’ve been doing this program for years. We take kids 14 to 18 years old. It teaches them the responsibility of getting up in the morning and going to work. It provides a good experience.”
Back at the spring, Yelle had finished cutting the steps and was using tree limbs to reinforce them.
“It keeps them from washing out,” he said. “I’ve seen it at other campsites, so it must work.”
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