Conservation Corps have been around since the 1930’s. It all started with the Civilian Conservation Corps which was created to help employ young men who had trouble finding work after the Great Depression. Today, Conservations Corps are making a comeback, offering hands on training in the field and encouraging environmental stewardship. Most corps are run through AmeriCorps, a civil society program supported by the U.S. Federal Government .
Each year, ERWP hires conservation crews to work in the watershed. At the beginning of the season, all corps members receive 2 week training. During this time, they receive certification in Wilderness First Aid and 4 day chainsaw training (S212 equivalence). The training also addresses things like herbicide handling, horse packing logistics, project specks, Leave No Traces practices, backcountry living, riparian ecology, and watershed restoration techniques. AmeriCorps members will receive an education award upon completion of their contract, along with a living stipend.
This is the largest river restoration training in the nation, with nearly 80 participants expected annually.
Once the 10 week season starts, the crews are usually placed anywhere from 2 to 8 miles in the backcountry where they work for 8 days at a time, running chainsaws 10 hours a day. Working with conservation crews is not only a great means to an end but also allows us to offer a fun experience of people meeting people while camping in remote areas, and gives us the opportunity to provide training and skills that they may take with them to help gain future employment with federal agencies or nonprofits.
Additionally, ERWP works with the conservation corps programs to hire local, at-risk, and Native American youth.
Corps members are not only influential for the project, but for the towns of Escalante and Boulder, in general. With the flood of members each fall, the community’s population is increased by almost 10%. That is a huge stimulation in the local economy. In 2014, the Utah Conservation Corps rented out the city park for their base camp. The money provided to the city from the corps was used to help fund a new water splash park for community members.
We would like to thank Utah Conservation Corps, Arizona Conservation Corps, Canyon Country Youth Corps and Southwestern Conservation Corps for their hard work and continued dedication to our watershed.