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Steamboat Magazine

RMYC Debuts First-ever All-women’s Fire Mitigation Crew

08/09/2023 02:31PM ● By Eugene Buchanan
Who says fire mitigation is man’s work? Certainly not Steamboat’s Rocky Mountain Youth Corps (RMYC), which debuts its first-ever, all-women fire mitigation crew this summer. 

Led by crew leader Taylor Roe, 23, who led a youth trail crew last summer and is fresh off a winter stint leading a women’s fire crew in South Carolina for the Student Conservation Association, the crew includes Addy Jones, 20; Nyelli Lara-Guiterrez, 23; Zoey Norwalk, 19; Soraia Bohner, 18; Grace Miller 21; Emma Griffith, 19; KT Jenkinson, 21; and assistant crew leader Davis Turner, 23. Together, they’ll work 10 weeks in the field throughout Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, including the Thunder Basin Grassland in Wyoming.  

“It’s a great crew, we’re all really close,” says Taylor, originally from southern California. “It’s a bunch of amazing women and everyone gets along really well.” 

The Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest is grateful for the help, no matter the gender. 
“It’s super unique to have such a team,” says Chris Green, assistant fire management officer for the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, fresh from the field cutting with the team in Fox Park, Wyoming. “It’s a pretty male-dominated profession, so whenever we can help get an opportunity to increase diversity it’s pretty special.” 

As for the workload, he adds, there’s no favoritism. “They’re all out there doing the same job, which can be pretty hard at times,” he says, adding that all fire mitigation crews undergo rigorous training before being turned loose in the field. “All seven of this year’s RMYC fire mitigation crews, including the women’s crew, has progressed way better than I would have projected this early on in the season. The women’s crew is no different from any other crew. They’re doing a lot of the work we don’t have the capacity to handle.” 

Despite the workload, Taylor says their camaraderie couldn’t be any better. “There’s a special dynamic when it’s all women, we feel really comfortable around each other,” says Taylor. “It’s really empowering. It’s nice to be around other women and feel supported while you’re learning something new. It’s a super bad-ass team. We’re a saw crew just like anyone else, but even better.” 

RMYC program manager Ashley Roscoe says the word got out early on the team and that applicants came flooding in. “We had quite a bit of interest in it,” she says. “We had way more applicants than we could fill.” As for any potential discrimination in such a male-dominated profession, she adds some of it comes with the territory, it seems, but that the women shrug it off and get to work. “They’ve faced a little discrimination in the field from other fire workers, but it just fuels their fire to work even harder,” she says. “And unlike being in a mixed crew, it’s almost even a better learning environment because they all have each other to lean on.” 

This bonding has paid off in the field, where conditions can test the mettle of even veteran crew members. “We’ve had some really interesting weather to deal with this year,” Taylor says, adding one night the crew got completely flooded out of their camp, with more than four inches of standing water in their tents, with everyone having to squish into the RMYC van for the night. “It was a crazy thunder and hailstorm outside of Osage, Wyoming. Locals call it O’Soggy. Everyone was pretty soggy in the morning, but it was fun because we were all in it together.”