More than 400 young men and women of the California Conservation Corps are working 16-hour shifts supporting firefighters throughout California, according to the CCC Foundation.
At the request of CalFire and the U.S. Fire Service (USFS), 35 crews currently are assigned to eight different fires between Humboldt and Tuolumne counties. Crews typically comprise 10 to 15 corps members and work 14 consecutive days without a break. Most of the CCC crews are battling the fire behind the front lines of attack. They work to make sure needed supplies arrive on time, maintain the fire camps and equipment and help to ensure that the logistics chain operates smoothly. Two crews at the Corral Complex blaze in Humboldt County are firefighting units.
“We are extremely proud of these dedicated and hard-working men and women,” said Tom Riley, President of the CCC Foundation. “Many come to the Corps to plant trees, restore fish habitats and build mountain trails. Others respond to natural emergencies. All are paid minimum wage, put in long hours and often live in pretty rugged conditions. But for 37 years they’ve been coming through for California when called upon.”
Crews of 18- to 25-year-old corps members typically are shipped to locations throughout California. For example, crews from Fresno, Monterey Bay, and Ukiah are working the huge Rim Fire in Tuolumne County at the edge of Yosemite.
In July, corps members provided 40,000 hours of fire response work from one end of California to the other, including work on major fires in Riverside and San Diego counties. At the request of CalFire and USFS, CCC crews currently are the Corral Complex Fire (Humboldt County), Butler Fire (Humboldt/Siskiyou counties), Forks Complex Fire (Humboldt/Siskiyou counties), Butler Fire (Humboldt/Siskiyou counties), Hough Complex Fire (Plumas County), Deer Fire (Tehama County), American Fire (Placer County), Fish Fire (Tulare County), and Rim Fire (Tuolumne County).
Once fire season winds down, corps members will still be hard at work. On Saturday, Oct. 19, hundreds of corps members will join community and corporate volunteers for Volunteer Day, an annual California environmental project sponsored by the CCC Foundation. Sponsored by the California Endowment, AT&T, Molina Healthcare, Raley’s and the American Chemistry Council. Ten projects this year will span the length of California – from native planting and trail maintenance in Humboldt County to working on a community garden at Cuyumaca College in San Diego County.
The CCC Foundation is a non-profit public benefit organization that supplements funding of CCC programs. Priorities include workforce development, education, leadership training, conservation, veterans, and emergency response. More information can be found on their website: www.cccfoundation.net.
Since the CCC was created in 1976, 110,000 corps members have provided more than 67 million hours of natural resource work – planting more than 21 million trees, improving stream and fish habitats, building or maintaining nearly 10,000 miles of trails and improving park and recreation areas. They also have spent nearly ten million hours of dedicated work in just about every large natural emergency.