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Teens cut path to outdoors

Youth participate in 2-week district program

Posted: June 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Team leader Stephanie Velazquez, 18, left, and other members of the Hart district's Trails program use axes to clear a path on Snake Trail in Quigley Canyon Open Space in Santa Clarita on Thursday.

 

Under the hot morning sun, teenagers hacked brush with weed whackers and axes. Others down the hill scraped the dirt and remaining weeds with shovels and rake-like tools, smoothing the trail to allow hikers, bicyclists and horses to pass.

All of the teens were wearing hard hats and other protective equipment to avoid scratches from the brush, burns from the sun and bites from ants in the Quigley Canyon open space.

The teens are part of William S. Hart Union High School District’s Trails program, which teaches students and recent grads the skills necessary to work in environmental sciences, wildland conservation and fire fighting programs, said Kevin Sarkissian, who is teaching the program for the second time this year.

The program runs two weeks and pays the students with funding from the California Department of Education, U.S. Forest Service and Transition Partnership Program.

On Thursday, the crew of 14 students was set to clear about a half-mile of trail in the Quigley Canyon open space in a matter of hours, Sarkissian said. In a four-day period, the crew cleared 2.25 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail in Acton.

The teens moved quickly while climbing a hill in Placerita Canyon Thursday, all the while hacking brush or scraping dirt.

“These guys are motivated like you would not believe,” Sarkissian said.

Before the teens began, Sarkissian briefed them about safety. He warned them about dehydration, rattlesnakes, ants, back injuries and sunscreen.

Keeva Crooks, who graduated from Golden Valley High School last month, said the program has made her more interested in conservation.

“It feels like I can accomplish something,” Crooks said. “After I joined this job, I became more interested in it because I kind of like it.”

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