Washington Conservation Corps seeks members

August 21, 2012

By Staff

The teams maintaining the trails on state and King County lands near Issaquah often include members of the Washington Conservation Corps — a fresh-out-of-college bunch eager to earn experience in the environmental field.

Like the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the 21st-century equivalent enlists young adults to tackle habitat and infrastructure projects.

The state Department of Ecology needs applicants to fill 300 service positions in 16 counties throughout the state.

Members earn $9.04 per hour and receive a $5,550 AmeriCorps education award upon completing the service year. The award may be used for student loans or future tuition expenses.

What to know

The upcoming Washington Conservation Corps service year starts Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 19, 2013. Applicants must be between 18 and 25. People interested in the program can apply at www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/memberpositions.html. The state Department of Ecology is also recruiting up to 14 crew supervisors at www.ecy.wa.gov/wcc/supervisor.html.

What to know

Washington Conservation Corps members notched many accomplishments last year:

  • 940,000 trees and shrubs planted
  • 1,100 acres of fish and wildlife habitat improved or restored
  • 400 miles of recreational trails improved

The program is supported by more than $7 million in state and federal funds.

Typical activities for participants include planting trees and vegetation, repairing stream and streamside habitat, constructing and upgrading trails, building fencing and providing environmental education.

Crews also help communities cope with natural disasters by responding to incidents and removing flood, fire and other debris. Members also participate in flood response, wildland firefighting and marine debris cleanup.

Local communities and organizations rely on the Washington Conservation Corps to complete environmental projects by forming cost-share agreements with the Department of Ecology.

In recent years, Washington Conservation Corps restored trails and streams in the Issaquah area.

In September 2010, a crew gathered at Taylor Creek, not far from the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill, to set up fencing to prevent beavers from damming a stretch of the creek near roads. In the past, beaver dams contributed to flooding at a nearby intersection.

Months later, Washington Conservation Corps members ascended Squak Mountain to join a Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust program to upgrade trails and carve drainage ditches at Squak Mountain State Park, a popular hiking destination.

The state program is part of AmeriCorps — a national service program created in 1993 — but the Washington Conservation Corps predates the national effort by a decade.

The state created the Washington Conservation Corps in 1983 to provide jobs and work training for about 1,600 young adults. In 1994, the program started receiving federal AmeriCorps funding, allowing crews to carry out on-the-ground projects across the state.

Organizers said the Washington program has provided training for more than 1,700 adults over the years.

Nowadays, a program called the Puget SoundCorps supplements the longtime agenda. Leaders formed Puget SoundCorps last year to complete projects on public lands designed to help carry out the Puget Sound Partnership’s plan for restoring the waterway.

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