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International college students to help revitalize Glen Canyon orchard

File - Construction began Monday on two flood-damaged drainages along Lees Ferry Road in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Work will continue through mid-September. On Jan. 10, more than 200 college students representing 13 countries will revitalize o
File - Construction began Monday on two flood-damaged drainages along Lees Ferry Road in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Work will continue through mid-September. On Jan. 10, more than 200 college students representing 13 countries will revitalize one of the most important historic sites on the Colorado River as part of an education and service-based collaboration between the U.S. State Department’s Community College Initiative Program and the National Park Service.
Kenneth Mays

PAGE, Ariz. — On Jan. 10, more than 200 college students representing 13 countries will revitalize one of the most important historic sites on the Colorado River as part of an education and service-based collaboration between the U.S. State Department’s Community College Initiative Program and the National Park Service.

The initiative is an international exchange program administered by Northern Virginia Community College on behalf of the Community College Consortium, which provides participants with a one-year, non-degree academic program in workforce development fields at a U.S. community college. The program recruits participants from underserved and unrepresented communities, particularly women. Since 2007, the program has hosted more than 2,800 participants from 21 countries.

To celebrate the program’s 10-year anniversary and commemorate 100 years of the National Park Service, this year’s 211 students and 22 staff will work in the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area to revive a historic orchard as a service learning event.

The orchard is located at Lonely Dell Ranch in the Lees Ferry Historic District. Lees Ferry, which was established in the 1872 as the only viable crossing of the Colorado River for hundreds of miles, was used by early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and other pioneers until 1928. A homestead at the mouth of the Paria Canyon, called Lonely Dell, still stands as a testament to the lives of ferry operators and their families. The Lonely Dell orchard is watered by irrigation systems that were established in the 1880s and is maintained by the National Park Service.

Today, the orchard continues to bear fruit and provide shade for visitors. Participants in the initiative will plant new trees in the orchard to replace trees that have died, prune and maintain healthy trees, and work on irrigation systems from three time periods to keep the orchard green.