Twenty local teenage students are working this summer to improve the health of the forest, as Shasta College and the Shasta-Trinity National Forest has teamed up to coordinate a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program. The three-year partnership will have crews reducing slash and accumulated fuels that pose a fire threat to Shasta County.
According to Missey Dunaetz, Shasta College YCC Crew Education Coordinator, “The program accomplishes needed conservation work on public lands and provides gainful employment for young adults aged 15-18 years old, from varied social, economic, ethnic, and racial backgrounds, as they develop an understanding and appreciation for the nation’s natural environment and heritage.”
As part of the program, the students receive 40 hours of environmental awareness training, including tours of Shasta Dam, Darrah Springs Fish Hatchery, and the Northern California Service Center. Crews learned about fire suppression from the Forest Service smokejumpers, air attack personnel, and participated in GPS training for tree identification/measurements. Students were exposed to the related degree programs (Forestry and Natural Resources) available at Shasta College that could lead them into careers similar to the work they were involved in as YCC Crew members.
“This year, 120 high school-aged students from all over Shasta County applied for the 20 available positions,” Dunaetz said. “Following the federally mandated YCC procedure, names were randomly drawn from a hard hat. Each student earns minimum wage for their time in the eight-week program.”
The crews cleared Moore Creek and Jennings Dispersed campgrounds of all invasive species, such as poison oak, scotch broom, blackberry and thistle. The youth also reduced fuels on many of the local trails, including Hirz Bay, Fisherman’s Point, Water Gulch and Fish Loop.
The work completed provides access for firefighters during suppression efforts as well as for hikers, bikers and visitors to the National Recreation Area. The funding for this project was provided by the American Recovery and Re-investment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act). USDA is working to implement provisions of the Recovery Act to put Americans back to work and rejuvenate the nation’s economy. The Recovery Act provided USDA with $28 billion in funding; of that, $1.15 billion has been allocated to the Forest Service for project work in forest restoration, hazardous fuels reduction, construction and maintenance of facilities, trails, and roads, green energy projects and grants to States, tribes and private landowners.
For more information on the Shasta College YCC program, contact the Shasta College Business, Agriculture, Industry and Technology Division at (530) 242-7560.
-from press release
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