CCC marks 40 years working for state

September 24, 2016

In 1976, Gov. Jerry Brown signed legislation establishing the California Conservation Corps (CCC). Now the oldest and largest conservation corps in the nation, the CCC is a work development program for people ages 18 to 25 who are looking for work experience that will improve and protect California’s natural resources, such as trail restoration, fire protection, land maintenance and natural disaster emergency response efforts.

This year the CCC is celebrating its 40th anniversary and, since its establishment, more than 120,000 young women and men from throughout the state have participated in the CCC work development program.

Much of the work done by CCC corpsmembers is emergency response, with a special focus on providing logistical support at incident command camps during wildfires. Corpsmembers have been on the scene of almost every major natural disaster that has occurred in California. Additionally, the Conservation Corps has partnered with the California Fire Safe Council to provide education to Californians on the dangers of wildfires and to work with local fire prevention councils to provide information about fire prevention measures, such as fuel load reduction and community fire safety plans.

Corpsmember crews from Fresno, San Luis Obispo, Santa Maria and Watsonville assisted the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) with its efforts to contain the massive Soberanes Fire burning near Big Sur. The CCC was also extremely active with Cal Fire on the Chimney Fire in San Luis Obispo County. Given that the state is still in the midst of a historic drought and that “megafires” are becoming the new normal, the services provided by the CCC are more important than ever.

The mission championed by the California Conservation Corps to bring young people together in order to preserve and protect California’s diverse and picturesque environment cannot be overemphasized. Corpsmembers acquire values and skills through their service that provide a foundation for the rest of their lives, while also learning about the value of public service. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of the CCC, I hope you will take time to thank corpsmembers for their significant contributions to conserve California’s natural resources and remember that all Californians have a responsibility to protect and take pride in the state’s natural wonders.

*Published by the Monterey Herald on 9/24/16