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Busy season for Youth Conservation Corps

THE ACTON WAKEFIELD Watersheds Alliance Youth Conservation Core helped protect 19 pieces of property this summer including this yard on Lovell Lake. Front row from left to right: Ryan Fabian, Adam Shoukimas (technical director), Jordan Shepherd; middle row from left to right: Tyler O'Donovan, Burleigh Hastings; back row from left to right: Anthony Stanton (crew leader), Zach Brown, Sam Wilson (crew leader). (click for larger version)
August 27, 2009
WAKEFIELD — Nineteen projects on six water bodies were completed this summer through the efforts of Acton (Maine) Wakefield Watersheds Alliance's Youth Conservation Corps.

The AWWA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting water quality in the region from threats like erosion and pollution. This season was more productive than most. During an average season, about 15 projects are completed, said AWWA Technical Director Adam Shoukimas.

The YCC worked on the following water bodies this summer: Lovell Lake, Great East Lake, Balch Pond, Province Lake, Wilson Lake, and Horn Pond.

"We really worked hard," said YCC crew leader Anthony Stanton, 19, of Action, Maine.

Last week, the YCC provided a tour of one of the projects, located in the backyard of at a residence on Lovell Lake. A group of volunteers and some technical leaders from AWWA and other agencies identified the yard as an area that needed work during a watershed survey last year.

The backyard was on a steep decline, which caused storm water to pour down the yard and into the lake. The problem was most pronounced at the bottom of some stairs that lead to a deck.

So, the YCC constructed three "infiltration steps" at the bottom of the deck stairs and on another steep area of the backyard. To a layperson, the infiltration steps would appear decorative. The steps are covered with a layer of gravel surrounded by a wood frame. Underneath the gravel is a layer of filter fabric, said Shoukimas.

The infiltration steps soak water into the ground, preventing it from rushing into the lake. The steps also provide a way to manage foot traffic, said Shoukimas.

The property owner is responsible for buying the materials and the YCC constructs the project (or most of it) for free, said Shoukimas.

"The landowner is getting a good deal," said Shoukimas. "They are protecting their property by getting some high quality work done at minimal cost."

Keeping water bodies clean is an important way to protect property values, said Shoukimas. If pollution, like lawn fertilizer, gets into the lake it can produce algae blooms, which can turn water into a "disgusting" green soup, said Shoukimas.

Property values can be reduced by 20 percent for every three-feet in water clarity that's lost, said Shoukimas. And it's far easier to keep water clean than it is to fix it after it gets polluted, he said.

However, that's not to say the construction work was easy. Some YCC members said while digging ditches they would have to hack through big roots or remove stones to get some projects done.

The length of their construction season depends on funding, said Shoukimas. The teens are considered employees and they do get paid an hourly rate.

Shoukimas said he's available to give homeowners advice. He will make house visits.

The AWWA funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Watershed Assistance grant program, the Towns of Acton, Maine, and Wakefield, the Alden N. Young Trust, the Roy Foundation, the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the Jane B. Cook 1983 Charitable Trust, local lake associations, and individual donations. The Route 16 Superstore in Tamworth donated a 2004 Ford F150.

Donations are welcome. The physical address is PO Box 254 Union NH 03887. Email at info@AWwatersheds.org. Phone is 473-2500.

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