Conservation corps plays important role in maintaining trails, streams

September 21, 2010

Members turn corps stint into eco-centric jobs

Jenn Woodham (foreground) and James Evangelisti, Washington Conservation Corps members, add fencing along Taylor Creek south of Issaquah. By Warren Kagarise

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.

“There are a lot of good public works projects that they’re doing out there,” state Department of Ecology spokesman Curt Hart said.

Members from far-flung corners of the United States populate the program. Some recruits, unable to land a job in a sour economy, turned to the program to burnish their résumés and earn a steady paycheck. Other members brought a background in environmental studies to the role. Many expressed a desire to learn about life in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to trail projects, crews yank invasive plants from public lands, plant native flora and restore creek habitat.

Washington Conservation Corps teams conducted trail maintenance on Tiger Mountain in the past year. Earlier projects included habitat restoration along Issaquah Creek.

Members also race to disaster-stricken areas to render assistance.

“Come rain, floods, shine, fires, they’re there,” Hart said.

In April, the state Department of Ecology dispatched 30 Washington Conservation Corps members and supervisors to clean up debris and set up shelters after a tornado tore through Yazoo City, Miss.

For residents in the aftermath of a natural disaster, “our WCC crews may be the first government people these people see,” Hart said.

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Washington Conservation Corps needs a few good men and women

August 25, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Aug. 25, 2010

The state Department of Ecology needs outdoors enthusiasts to help protect the environment and offer relief in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Backed by a $1.9 million federal grant, the agency plans to add 180 Washington Conservation Corps members statewide.

The agency needs people ages 18 and 25 years to fill the positions for the upcoming service year — Oct. 1 to Sept. 30, 2011. Apply for a position here.

Established in 1983 as a response to the sour economy, the program became affiliated with the federal AmeriCorps program in 1994 and then expanded.

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