7 Ways Corps Enhance Fishing & Boating Opportunities

In recognition of National Fishing & Boating Week (June 6 - 13, 2015), an event of Great Outdoors Month, here are just a few examples of how Corps across the country help create or improve fishing and boating opportunities. 

As boaters and fishing enthusiasts know all too well, human activity can have a disastrous effect on our waters. Carelessness is what leads to trash-clogged rivers, wetlands coated with oil slicks, and depleted fish populations.

Fortunately, there are many people who are not only aware of how their actions affect our waterways, but who make an effort to protect our lakes and rivers. Among these environmentally-conscious individuals are Corpsmembers; young adults enrolled in America’s Service and Conservation Corps.

Corps are comprehensive youth development programs that engage diverse young adults in service projects that address local environmental and community needs. Read below to learn about seven service projects across the country through which Corps enhanced fishing and boating opportunities.


1. Kayaking in Los Angeles – LA Conservation Corps 

In 2011, LA Conservation Corps received a license to operate the first non-motorized boating pilot program on the Los Angeles River. All 280 available seats sold out within the first 10 minutes of the program’s online launch. During the first week of the program, the waiting list surpassed 350 people.

This early success allowed the Paddle the LA River program to expand. Today, kayaking trips are led five days a week throughout the summer by members of LA Conservation Corps who have been trained in swift water rescue. These Corpsmembers build leadership skills and spread environmental awareness as they educate kayakers about the ecology of the river during the course of the 1.5 mile trips. By paddling this scenic stretch of river, Angelenos can discover a side of LA they might not have ever known existed.


2. Veterans Beautifying Beaches – Washington Conservation Corps 

Marine debris is harmful to aquatic life, unpleasant for beachgoers, and potentially dangerous for boaters.  It is estimated that nearly 270,000 tons of plastic debris float on the surface of the world’s oceans. While some of this trash eventually sinks, a lot of it drifts ashore. The good news for ocean-lovers is that Corps based in coastal communities are frequently involved in beach cleanups.

For example, United States veterans serving with Washington Conservation Corps removed over 4,000 pounds of marine debris from 5.5 miles of Bellingham Bay over the course of just seven days in 2014. Their efforts were part of a larger cleanup project through which more than 11 tons of trash were removed from the beaches of the Northwest Straits between March and September of last year.

Through this project, not only did northern Washington’s beaches receive a much-needed cleanup, but a group of young veterans continued to serve their country as part of their transition back to civilian life. 


3. Healthy Aquatic Ecosystems in Montana – Montana Conservation Corps 

Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) engages both Corpsmembers and volunteers in protecting the pristine waters of the Northern Rockies. In 2014, Corpsmembers removed invasive Tamarisk (commonly referred to as salt cedar) from the banks of over 40 miles of the Missouri River. Tamarisk is extremely invasive, replacing native plants with impenetrable thickets that can make riverside recreation impossible. Corpsmembers also removed Eurasian watermilfoil, an invasive plant that forms dense mats on the surface of the water, from an 11-mile section of the Jefferson River. Watermilfoil can quickly overtake native plants, rob other aquatic life of oxygen, and interfere with fishing and boating.

Last year, MCC Corpsmembers also participated in a fin clipping project for Montana’s Fish, Wildlife, and Parks division. Approximately 150,000 fish were marked as a way to evaluate the effectiveness of fish stocking programs at numerous dams.

Recently, Montana Corpsmembers have been involved with the Flathead River to Lake Initiative.

Thanks to Corpsmembers and other volunteers, over 1,000 shrubs and trees have been planted along the Flathead this spring. The new plants stabilize the riverbanks and reduce the amount of sediment flowing downstream.=

In addition to Corpsmember projects, MCC engages the whole community in watershed protection through volunteer projects, education and outreach. Recurring volunteers with MCC’s “Stream Teams” have the opportunity to collect sophisticated water chemicals for state and federal databases. Episodic volunteers can still participate in a wide variety of projects focused on improving overall watershed health. Past projects have included river cleanups, wildlife and fisheries surveys, water quality and quantity monitoring, snowpack surveys, riparian habitat surveys, and teaching youth about conservation. 


4. Local Youth Restoring the Gulf – CLIMB CDC | Texas Conservation Corps | The Corps Network |The Nature Conservancy 

Over the last decade, the Gulf Coast has been battered by natural and man-made disasters, one of the most notable being the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill which released 4.9 million barrels-worth of crude oil into the Gulf.

Although we have yet to see the long-term environmental and economic impact of recent disasters (ranging from the oil spill to hurricanes and flooding), mobilizing a trained environmental and disaster response workforce to effectively carry out restoration efforts is the best way to diminish any further ecological degradation.

The Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative is an effort to build the capacity of Service and Conservation Corps in coastal communities of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Led by The Corps Network and The Nature Conservancy, the initiative has operated two phases of a pilot project in which local Corpsmembers from CLIMB CDC, a Mississippi-based economic development organization, tested water quality and surveyed invertebrate and fish populations under the supervision of experienced Texas Conservation Corps Crew Leaders. Corpsmembers learned how to kayak and were trained in water safety, water monitoring techniques, and construction.


5. Protecting Hawaii's Beaches - Kupu, Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps

In the Hawaiian language, Kupu means “to sprout, grow, germinate, or increase.” The kupukupu fern is one of the first plants to bring life back to areas that have been devastated by lava flow. Taking its name from this vital plant, the organization Kupu, which houses the Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps, states that its mission is to “bring life back to the people, land, and ocean while restoring the larger community for a better tomorrow.” One way that Kupu embodies its mission is through organized service projects.

In April of this year, youth in Kupu’s Extended Internship Program and CommunityU Program participated in a weeklong service project in which they cleaned Malaekahana Stream and Kahuku Beach in Kahuku, Hawaii. The ocean plays a very important role in Hawaiian culture and is vitally important to the state’s economy. Keeping Hawaii’s beaches and waterways clean and healthy is a necessity.

One of the crew’s accomplishments was removing large ghost fishing nets from Kahuku Beach. These nets, which weigh hundreds of pounds, had been sitting along the shoreline for years, entangling fish, coral, turtles and other marine species. Crew members also removed invasive mangrove trees from Malaekahana Stream. The trees had completely choked out native flora and fauna; their removal will allow native aquatic plant and fish species to thrive.


6. Adopt a Channel – Orange County Conservation Corps 

In California’s Orange County, over 350 miles of storm channels and urban waterways help transport rain and stormwater to the coast, where one can find some of California’s most pristine beaches and coastal ecological preserves. Over time, however, the county’s storm channels and waterways were neglected and accumulated debris and trash. Graffiti also spread throughout the system of channels, creating a sense of urban decay that stimulated gang activity.

A powerful storm could flood the county and severely damage coastal ecosystems if the channels remained clogged. Partnering with Orange County Conservation Corps and a number of other local organizations, Disneyland started a program to clean the channels. Modeled after the successful Adopt a Highway program, the pilot of the Adopt a Channel program was extremely successful: crews removed over 1,000 pounds of debris that otherwise would have been deposited into the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve. Corpsmembers also removed over 15,000 square feet of graffiti from two miles of the channel, leading to a 90% decrease in vandalism.

Adopt a Channel has encouraged the whole community to take ownership of their water resources and local coastal ecology. Each Adopter has the opportunity to provide a healthier habitat for fish, great blue herons, pelicans and other coastal animals.


7. Reinvigorating D.C.’s “Forgotten River” – Earth Conservation Corps 

“Endangered youth reclaiming the Anacostia River, our communities and our lives” is the mission statement of Earth Conservation Corps (ECC). The Anacostia has been called “DC’s forgotten river.” Its 8.7 miles flow through some of the most impoverished neighborhoods in the nation’s capital. Though the river is beginning to recover thanks to government and private efforts, some of the communities along its banks continue to experience limited development and high crime.

Earth Conservation Corps works to reverse this trend by engaging youth from under-resourced DC neighborhoods in the environmental restoration of the Anacostia. Among other things, Corpsmembers and ECC volunteers remove trash and debris from the water, collect and analyze water samples, and stabilize the river’s banks with new plantings. The Corps has also been involved in bringing bald eagles and ospreys back to the river by improving nesting habitats and helping restore the river’s fish population. In past summers, ECC held Friday Night Fishing, inviting families from the community to the ECC dock on the Anacostia to learn how to reel in a fish.


New Jersey Youth Corps Puts Aquatic Restoration Training to Use with Audubon

17-year-old Omari Gibson of Phillipsburg smiles as he works in the stream, saying it's their way of giving back. Photo credit: NJ.com

They were in the classroom on Tuesday and in the water by Thursday. Less than 48 hours after completing an innovative online-delivered aquatic restoration course, members of the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg chapter were up to their knees in a Musky River feeder stream putting their new found expertise to work.

The youth corps members joined local volunteers from New Jersey Audubon in a sustainable stream bank restoration. The group hand-planted willow stakes along the waterway that when grown will prevent soil erosion into the stream while providing shade that will help keep the water cool and protect valuable habitat for wildlife.

NJ.com’s Warren reporter Emily Cummins quotes Zach Oefelein, an 18 year-old corps member as saying "It definitely gives me a good sense of pride. There aren't enough people focused on things like this. A lot of our world is focused on what you can get out of nature and not what you can put back into it. I feel like this is the best way you can do it, planting trees out here and improving the ecosystem."

You can read more at:  


Boiler Plate: 
They were in the classroom on Tuesday and in the water by Thursday. Less than 48 hours after completing an innovative online-delivered aquatic restoration course, members of the New Jersey Youth Corps Phillipsburg chapter were up to their knees in a Musky River feeder stream putting their new found expertise to work.

Waders in the Water Aquatic Restoration Training Interactive Support — Now Easier and More Powerful

From our partners at Trout Headwaters, Inc. comes news about enhancements to the Waders in the Water aquatic restoration training they offer to Corpsmembers.

The Waders in the Water online support tool has been newly upgraded to improve system features and ease-of-use. EcoBlu Analyst 2.0, the cloud-based big data system for the Waders in the Water green jobs training and certification program, is now easier to use than ever. The intuitive, interactive maps of member Corps, conservation projects, and potential restoration industry employers are now faster and more user-friendly, and new resources include feeds for conservation jobs and internships.  

Every Waders in the Water student receives password access to the platform so they can explore opportunities in the growing restoration economy and access a wealth of support material to refresh or expand their knowledge, including stream, river, wetland, coastal, and estuary restoration drawings and specifications, resume templates, environmental glossary and more.  WisCorps’ Garrett Shears took the online class and told us “The web based resource is an incredibly valuable tool.” 

This sample interactive map shows various U.S. Conservation Corps which are Waders in the Water certified.

Presently Corpsmembers and leaders in 23 states are applying their new certification and are using EcoBlu Analyst 2.0 to both understand the restoration economy, and to partner with fellow Corps on projects.

White Mountain Youth Corps Founder Mike Gaffney: “I think the training/certification gives our partners and potential partners more confidence that we're serious about restoration work and that we can be a trusted source for their restoration implementation plans.”

Wyoming Conservation Corps Assistant Director Patrick Harrington echoed the values. “Trout Headwaters has developed a truly unique training for the Conservation Corps world,” he said. This platform is just one of the support tools already deployed for the Waders in the Water Level I training.  

Expect an announcement soon on release of the new Waders in the Water level II training. In the meantime, many corps told us early April was a great time to train and certify newly arriving Corpsmembers in aquatic restoration and the green jobs economy.

To participate in the next online webinar training:

Members of The Corps Network can Register Here for the April 6 & 7, (10 am –1 pm EDT) Waders in the Water Level I class.  

The private-public training program continues to offer on-site sessions for groups of 20-40 students to accommodate individual corps needs. Please contact Luke Frazza for more information.


Marie Walker, Vice President, The Corps Network
(202) 737-6272

Luke Frazza, Project Development, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
(703) 244-7460

Boiler Plate: 
From our partners at Trout Headwaters, Inc. comes news about enhancements to the Waders in the Water aquatic restoration training they offer to Corpsmembers.

Aquatic Restoration Training Reaches Corps in 16 States!

Act Now… Time Is Running Out!

Washington, DC – The Corps Network’s Waders in the Water live, online webinar training and certification is filling-up fast.

Initiative trains local youth in coastal restoration to assist in Gulf Oil Spill recovery

Through Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative, teens and young adults to gain skills in aquatic resource management and coastal habitat monitoring

Online Delivery Slashes Cost of Green Jobs training!


Online Delivery Slashes Cost of Green Jobs training!

Download PDF version of thie Press Release

Industry Support Grows for Restoration Private-Public Partnership

Corps Network Vice President Marie Walker (C) and NJYC Phillipsburg members participate in a Waders in the Water class. To view video, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnW0CWV1UCI
Washington, DC – August 28, 2014 - Aquatic restoration businesses continue to express excitement as Youth Corps nationwide are receiving training and certification for climate-ready aquatic restoration. Graduates of the Waders in the Water training program, created by The Corps Network and Trout Headwaters Inc., will be skilled in aquatic safety, knowledgeable about installation techniques, and ready to provide business and government reliable restoration on streams, rivers and wetlands across the U.S. This industry-recognized credential will build important bridges to enable youth to enter conservation careers by learning how to improve the health, productivity, and climate-resiliency of our streams, rivers, and wetlands.

Trout Headwaters President Mike Sprague said: “I’ve been impressed by the excitement from businesses and government alike who have long wished for such a trained and skilled national workforce. It’s very gratifying to see such widespread support for this important program.”

Doug Lashley, CEO of GreenVest LLC and immediate Past President of the National Mitigation Banking Association, the leading organization in the country engaged in ecological restoration and conservation banking says “this movement presents an incredible opportunity to engage the youth of America to help reverse trends and conditions that impact our waters, streams, rivers and all forms of biodiversity.” Lashley added “Educating youth at an early age on best management practices and an appreciation of the environment will equip them for future jobs in the outdoors, enhance local economies, and most importantly, encourage an appreciation of the restoration of water quality impacting all forms of life. Corporate America can help support this opportunity through Public Private Partnerships as a method of complying with their growing internal sustainability initiatives. It is an investment with no limit on the returns.”
Building on the great traditions of the Civilian Conservation Corps since 1933, the Waders in the Water training and certification was built to further the goals of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps which aims to have 100,000 young people and veterans working to improve public lands and waters everywhere.
Youth Corps believe this training will enable their members to be hired for projects previously unavailable to them. Because Waders in the Water offers professional training from a third-party industry expert, clients can be confident in the quality of the workforce they are contracting.
Director of the New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg (NJYCP) Michael Muckle said “I see this program improving not just the quality of our environment, but the quality of the lives of the people in service”. Muckle went on to say “While implementing streamside restoration measures might seem like trying to control the chaos of the natural order of things, we hope to show the participants that by making substantive, small improvements, the ripple effect downstream – literally and figuratively - are sometimes exponential.”
Trout Headwaters, Inc.

Trout Headwaters Inc. is the industry leader in sustainable approaches to stream, river, and wetland renewal and repair. As one of the oldest firms in the industry, THI has pioneered approaches using natural materials and native vegetation that can reliably replace hard, invasive treatments that often damage our nation’s streams and rivers. Besides developing and refining new techniques, THI is a staunch advocate for greater sharing of information and more consistent use of assessment and monitoring tools, providing greater certainty of environmental benefits to restoration.
Luke Frazza, Project Development, Trout Headwaters, Inc.
New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg

Founded in 1998, New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg provides municipal support to the Town of Phillipsburg, NJ while offering hundreds of youth the opportunity to earn their GED as they serve their community. NJYC Phillipsburg’s conservation projects have included urban tree planting, Delaware River clean-ups, riparian buffer restorations, and assistance with the ecological maintenance of the White Lake Natural Resource Area and other Warren County properties.

Michael Muckle, Director, New Jersey Youth Corps of Phillipsburg
(908) 859-2969


Boiler Plate: 
Washington, DC – August 28, 2014 - Aquatic restoration businesses continue to express excitement as Youth Corps nationwide are receiving training and certification for climate-ready aquatic restoration.

Service and Conservation Corps Will Soon Add “Waders in the Water”

The Corps Network is working with Trout Headwaters, Inc. on a new training program to put “Waders in the Water.”  THI president Michael Sprague (pictured) says his company is looking forward to readying America’s youth and veterans for work along our waterways.