LINCOLN — A 160-year-old cemetery in the heart of the Helena in Lewis and Clark National Forest is getting rehabilitated,all thanks to Preserve Montana and Montana Conservation Corps.
"This is the history, and this is the heritage of not only Lincoln people whose people are still related to who is buried here, and it's an active cemetery on the other side, so what we're doing is we are separating the historic side from the active site so that we don't get any burials in the historical side," said Pam Attardo, Helena and Lewis and Clark County Heritage Preservation Officer.
Montana Conservation Corps crew members will reconstruct stone and mortar bollards to separate the historic and active parts of the cemetery. Some of them will also be helping repair and rehab three wooden grave fences built around 1869.
MCC crews protect and conserve places like Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, as well as local trails and parks. MCC provides around 400,000 hours of service a year.
For Crew Lead Ben Roth, the experience the crews gain is something special.
"I think it's it's definitely a unique experience. A lot of teams are not getting to do stuff like this. A lot of teams are doing very basic conservation work, whereas we get a much more historical look at what it means to take care of the land," said Roth.
Learning about the cemetery and camping not too far away for the crew has been a great way to spend their summer.
"I'm from Bozeman, and there's a lot of history there, so I get the whole preserving history 'cause it's a huge part of our community, and it's nice to see, get out and see other parts of Montana and their history and what is most important to them, and I'm grateful to go to be out here to help do that," said Nella Ward, MCC crew member.
The MCC experience has taught this crew a lot.
"That we get to be out here and conserve because I see like a lot of new development or just poor use of land, especially when it's destroyed when we could be like putting wilderness and conservation into buildings or our everyday lives, and so it's cool to be a part of a group that can help," said Carly Bryant, MCC crew member.
All while creating bonds that will last a lifetime.
"I really love everyone on this crew but especially Ben and Steve, they are our adopted fathers, they buy us coffee, and buy us food and We love them for it," said Ward.
The crew will end their "hitch" on July 13.