California is known for its efforts to preserve vast amounts of natural wilderness. With miles of golden coastline and forests spanning the entire Sierra Nevada, there are many natural wonders worth saving across California.
The California Conservation Corps (CCC) is celebrating 40 years of being the backbone of the conservation effort in California. Created in 1976 by Governor Jerry Brown, the CCC has grown to be the oldest and largest conservation corps currently still in operation.
Members of the CCC between ages 18-25 sign up for year-long programs in which they work outdoors to improve California’s natural resources. Also assisting with emergency response fighting fires, pest infestations and even providing flood and earthquake relief, more than 120,000 corps members have donned the CCC logo in the name of conservation.
“We put together young people and the environment for the benefit of both,” said Susanne Levitsky, public information officer with the CCC. “It helps young adults to get career ideas or even just earn a paycheck (…) people join for all reasons, but many who do it find something to continue in afterwards.”
While cleaning oil spills, managing hiking trails in parks or swapping out toilets for more water-efficient appliances aren’t the most glamorous of jobs, corps members provide an invaluable service to all of California.
“We have quite a variety of different projects,” said Levitsky. “They can go from boring on one project but then lead to a future career path the next. We’ve even had some members become firefighters, work with Cal Trans, land management agencies and other state or federal agencies after leaving the corps.”
The CCC has done a number of projects around the Central Valley including: water conservation crews making Modesto and Ceres parks more water-efficient, brush clearance and landscaping along major freeways (99, 140, 33, 5), planting approximately 180,000 native plants as part of a river restoration project, removal of dead trees at McConnell State Recreation Area and hazardous tree and debris removal at Turlock Lake.
There are also special programs within the CCC like an Australian exchange program starting in August and a special veteran program which helps veterans up to age 29 transition back into civilian life.
With 40 strong years of work under their belt, the CCC has no intention of slowing down their efforts to conserve the Golden State. For more information on CCC, go to www.ccc.ca.gov.