California Governor Jerry Brown Filmed for California Conservation Corps Video

Photo by Christian Schneider.

Story provided by the California Conservation Corps

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. was filmed this week talking about the California Conservation Corps' Energy Corps, which has done hundreds of energy audits for California schools. The work is funded through the state's Proposition 39 initiative. The Governor's remarks, which also included reflections about today's CCC along with the program he created in 1976, will be included in videos for the Corps. Sacramento corpsmember Nick Mathews, shown with the Governor, is a member of one of the CCC energy crews.

A recent video made by the California Conservation Corps depicted "A day in the life of a Corpsmember" and featured footage and audio of Governor Brown talking about the value of the Corps. 

Boiler Plate: 
California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. was filmed this week talking about the California Conservation Corps' Energy Corps, which has done hundreds of energy audits for California schools.

California Conservation Corps Meets U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx

Secretary Foxx greets CCC corpsmember Matthew Davidson as Anh Loc Harris looks on.

Story provided by the California Conservation Corps

Corpsmembers, former corpsmembers, and California Conservation Corps staff were invited by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to attend a meeting with U.S. Transporation Secretary Anthony Foxx last week in San Francisco.

The focus was project work the CCC provides to Caltrans and specifically the career path the two agencies have developed through the Caltrans Trainee program. A number of corpsmembers have been hired by Caltrans after participating in the Trainee program.  Also discussed was how the CCC makes use of both federal and state transportation funding.

Secretary Foxx listens as CCC Director David Muraki talks about the partnerships with state and federal transportatIon agencies.

Boiler Plate: 
Corpsmembers, former corpsmembers, and California Conservation Corps staff were invited by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to attend a meeting with U.S. Transporation Secretary Anthony Foxx last week in San Francisco.

California Conservation Corps responds to the King Fire



This is one of the largest contingents of California Conservation Corps crews on one fire.  Sixteen crews -- 214 corpsmembers -- are assisting the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire on the King Fire about 60 miles north of Sacramento.

The crews are providing both fire camp support and firefighting assistance on the wildfire.

An additional eight CCC crews are helping with logistical support at two other locations.

Since July 1, the CCC has devoted nearly 200,000 hours to fire response efforts.

David Muraki Honored as One of 20 AmeriCorps Trailblazers

Story submitted by the California Conservation Corps

California Conservation Corps Director David Muraki was honored as one of 20 AmeriCorps Service Trailblazers during a 20th anniversary AmeriCorps event in San Francisco last week.

David served as deputy director for CaliforniaVolunteers from 1996 to 2007, leading public policy efforts and supporting AmeriCorps national service and disaster volunteer programs.  He was also architect of a statewide system matching volunteers with organizations that need them. 

In 2007, David was appointed director of the California Conservation Corps.

Among those also honored as Trailblazers at the San Francisco ceremony were former first lady Maria Shriver and Sacramento Congresswoman Doris Matsui.

Boiler Plate: 
California Conservation Corps Director David Muraki was honored as one of 20 AmeriCorps Service Trailblazers during a 20th anniversary AmeriCorps event in San Francisco last week.

California Conservation Corps Crews thin forest in bid to protect Jack London State Historic Park’s oaks

Article, written by Eloisa Ruano Gonzalez, appears in The Press Democrat. Published August 26, 2014.

To protect the majestic centuries-old oaks at Jack London State Historic Park, state workers have this week begun cutting down invasive vegetation and bay laurel trees known to harbor sudden oak death, which has killed millions of oaks and tanoaks throughout Northern California.

As oak trees have died and toppled from the disease, canopy openings have widened at the park in Glen Ellen. That has let more light seep through some areas of the forest, fueling the growth of dense and more flammable plants, according to environmental officials.

Chainsaws and shears in hand, nearly a dozen workers with the California Conservation Corps made their way Tuesday up a section of the park near the Wolf House ruins to tear out broom and other brush that could act as “ladders,” allowing flames to climb onto tree canopies during a fire. They navigated their way around dead oak trees and poison oak to get to young bay laurels that threaten tanoaks and black and coast live oaks, which are more “vulnerable” to sudden oak death, according to Cyndy Shafer, a senior environmental scientist with California State Parks.

“We’re definitely not removing all of the bay trees. It’s very targeted and strategic,” Shafer said about the $150,000 project, funded by the state and aimed at reducing the fire risk and spread of the disease in the oak-dominated section of the forest.

“It’ll make it less inviting for sudden oak death,” she added. “(But) we will not be removing any mature, healthy trees.”

The disease is caused by a fungus-like organism called Phytophthora ramorum, which is believed to be related to the microbe thought to be responsible for the Irish potato famine, and was discovered in Marin County in 1995.

It’s killed more than 3 million tanoak and oak trees throughout 15 coastal counties from Monterey to Humboldt, according to UC Berkeley’s Forest Pathology Laboratory.

It’s infected more than 105,000 acres in Sonoma County.

Combing through the state park, Shafer pointed to black and brown spots on a bay tree, evidence it was carrying the disease. Although it doesn’t kill bay trees, she said, sudden oak death easily can spread via water to nearby oaks — some of which are hundreds of years old and beloved by the community.

“Everybody understands that bay laurels are major carriers and they’re threatening the oak trees,” said Tjiska Van Wyk, executive director of Jack London Park Partners, which operates the state-owned park.

“The project is protecting the oaks for future generations,” she added. “We have a lot of those (old) guys here.”

Park visitors were upset over plans last year to remove a celebrated oak that stands outside Jack London’s cottage. Arborists had determined it was infected with a pathogenic fungi and dying, though it was determined not to be afflicted with sudden oak death. The tree, more than 300 years old, was spared after additional testing revealed it did have significant decay but was healthier than first believed.

Daniel White, a Corps employee supervising the crew, grew up climbing oak trees in the Napa area. It’s an experience he wants his son and future grandchildren to have.

“It’ll be nice to see future generations have the same opportunity we had,” White said as he watched crew member Durantae Johnson saw through a large dead oak that already had fallen over — likely a victim of sudden oak death.

“I’ve never seen oak trees this big before,” said Johnson, of Vallejo. “It feels good to help the area.”

Johnson and the rest of the crew will work for the next five to six weeks until the rain kicks in.

They plan to cut down the limbs and brush and press them down into the earth to decompose instead of hauling them off and risk spreading sudden oak death elsewhere, Shafer said.

Ted Swiecki, a plant pathologist and co-owner of Phytosphere Research, which was hired to look for ways to reduce the fire hazard and impact of sudden oak death, said the drought has slowed down the spread of the disease because a lack of rainfall to carry it. He said it’s important they get ahead of the problem to preserve oaks.

“An oak-dominated woodland is a pretty low fire hazard,” he said, adding, “It’s a proactive approach. What we’re trying to do is maintain a desirable native stand there.”

More Than 400 Corpsmembers On California Wildfires

Corpsmembers on the Bald Fire in the Lassen National Forest.

From the California Conservation Corps

The California Conservation Corps continues its fire response efforts, with 411 corpsmembers -- 31 crews -- assisting Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service throughout the state.

The largest contingent is on the Lodge Fire in Mendocino County.  In Southern California, CCC crews are providing logistical support on the Tecolote Fire in the Angeles National Forest.  Corpsmembers are also working on seven other wildfires. The crews are from 18 CCC locations throughout California and are providing both logistical support and initial attack on the firelines. 

The CCC, one of the state's premier emergency response forces, has provided more than 100,000 hours of fire response work on 45 different fires since July 1. Crews from every CCC center have been called out.

A Former CCC Staff Member's Giving Back Program and an Opportunity for Corps to Raise Funds

Domenic Santangelo, a longtime staff member of the California Conservation Corps, retired in December 2013 after holding the role of Center Director for the CCC’s flagship residential camp in San Luis Obispo, California for 17 years. You can read a story about his 35 years with the program here. Instead of relaxing in his newly retired state, Domenic decided to start a business to further give back to the service and conservation corps!

His business, onthegrade, offers high-quality and uniquely artistic Corps accessories. Their mission is to service Corps with their marketing product ideas, offer everyday useful products, and recognize the awesome accomplishments of their Corpsmembers and staff.

A special way to give back to America’s Youth Corps is through their Giving Back program. This program donates cash up to 5% for qualified products non-profit Corps and/or their Foundations sell through the store. There is absolutely no risk to the Foundation/Corps recipient, with onethegrade willing to pay all manufacturing costs. Currently California Conservation Corps Foundation has partnered with onthegrade, selling “SEQUOIA” belt buckles to benefit CCC.

This is a great opportunity for Corps to generate revenue and create custom products (belt buckles, bracelets, lapel pins, and more!) to sell. If you are interested contact onthegrade for more details about the Giving Back program. Take advantage of this great opportunity to market and support your Corps! It’s inspiring to see people like Domenic Santangelo dedicate not only 35 years but also his retirement to the service and conservation corps. Thank you for your time as a staff member and we hope this business is successful!

California Conservation Corps Crews Available to Assist with Water Conservation Projects


Article, written by Lisa Lien-Mager, appears on the Association of California Water Agencies website. Published July 2, 2014.

The California Conservation Corps is making crews available to assist with water efficiency projects through a new program funded by emergency drought relief legislation enacted earlier this year.

As part of the program, supervised CCC crews will complete water conservation projects such as plumbing retrofits and installation of water-efficient landscaping at no cost to public agencies and non-profit organizations, as well as commercial property owners. Agency sponsors would be responsible for materials and supplies.

Eligible projects include installation of water-efficient landscaping and irrigation systems; replacement of plumbing fixtures at schools, public agencies and commercial properties; installation of water-efficient fixtures such as low-flow toilets; water efficiency education and outreach activities in disadvantaged communities; and energy projects that contribute to energy and water conservation.

Five crews of 10 members each will be fully trained on irrigation and plumbing systems and ready for assignments after July 25. Crews will be working out of CCC centers in Napa, Stockton, Santa Maria, Inland Empire, and Norwalk and would prefer projects within 50 miles or a one-hour drive of those locations.

Applicants are required to submit a short application to the CCC detailing the scope of the project. Applications will be accepted on an ongoing basis through Sept. 2 for projects in 2014. Applications for 2015 projects will be accepted beginning Nov. 1 through Aug 1, 2015.

The CCC is a state agency established in 1976 to provide young people with work and life skills training in natural resource conservation work and education programs throughout the state. Typical CCC projects include trail building, fire fuel reduction, energy efficiency surveys and retrofits, and emergency response operations.

More on the CCC is available here.

CCC Crews Dispatched to Southern California Fires

A CCC fire crew on the Miguelito Fire in Santa Barbara County.  Photo by CCC crew supervisor Jeremy Day.

Story provided by the California Conservation Corps.

A dozen crews from the California Conservation Corps  -- 170 corpsmembers -- are helping to combat the wildfires in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties.

CCC crews from Los Angeles, Pomona, San Diego and San Bernardino are assisting with logistical support at fire camps in San Diego County.  Crews are working for both Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service; they are assigned to the Bernardo and Tomahawk fires among other locations.

In Santa Barbara County, Camarillo and San Luis Obispo corpsmembers are helping with both initial attack efforts and camp support on the Miguelito Fire.

Additional CCC crews stand ready to assist where needed.

Boiler Plate: 
A dozen crews from the California Conservation Corps -- 170 corpsmembers -- are helping to combat the wildfires in San Diego and Santa Barbara counties.

CCC Corpsmember writes about National Geographic BioBlitz at Golden Gate Parks

CCC members with John Griffith and Outdoor Afro's Rue Mapp at Golden Gate National Parks

The California Conservation Corps Teams up with National Geographic and The Golden Gate Parks Conservancy for The Bioblitz Event!


By Kevin Casbeer
Corpsmember - California Conservation Corps, Ukiah

On March 28th and 29th 2014, I was one of the corps members from the Ukiah and Napa Centers who had the amazing opportunity to be a part of this year’s National Geographic BioBlitz at Golden Gate Parks! Being able to see kids involved with hands-on science projects and collecting biological data was truly inspiring for a young adult like me. After doing research on what exactly what “nature deficit disorder” was, I felt obligated to help out in whatever way I can to reconnect kids with nature. The Bioblitz Event was the perfect opportunity! In an age where our kids are attached to technology, it was refreshing to see the creative minds of park rangers, school teachers, musicians, and a crew supervisor from the California Conservation Corps hard at work to engage kids outdoors. It would be a dream of mine to follow in these footsteps and inspire a movement of sustainability and appreciation for nature in my community.

The National Geographic’s BioBlitz is a 24-hour event in which teams of volunteer scientists, families, students, teachers, and other community members work together to find and identify as many species of plants, animals, and other organisms as possible. National Geographic is helping conduct a BioBlitz in a different national park each year during the decade leading up to the U.S. National Park Service Centennial in 2016. The event is accompanied by a Biodiversity Festival where the public watched stage performances and visited interactive and environmentally themed booths. This is where the CCC came in. We went onstage at the festival to talk to kids about our experiences as corps members and dance. Yes, dance… more on that soon.  

Since joining the California Conservation Corps (CCC) in January of 2013, the most rewarding volunteer trips I have been on were the ones where kids were involved. It is important to make sure that at the vital time of a child’s development, kids think of the outdoors as a place they belong. A dream of mine would be able to teach kids in a hybrid style, using both nature and technology as was done at the Bioblitz Event. Kids were teamed up with biologists and used a phone application called iNaturalist to catalogue the plant and animal species they discovered. The app iNat is easy to understand, and with it, anybody with a smart-phone or tablet can contribute to science while out in nature.

But not every child is blessed to have a smart phone and a backyard. So how do you engage kids who have little access to green spaces and expensive technologies to care about nature? Simple, you can start by advocating for green spaces in your city, access to those spaces, and for experiences that make nature both educational and entertaining. Not to mention, getting the word out that kids can join the CCC when they turn 18. Sounds easy, but I experienced firsthand the hard work and dedication it takes to make this happen.


Watch CCC members do the Bioblitz dance

In addition to speaking to the kids at the Bioblitz Event about our CCC experiences, we also did the Bioblitz Dance.  John Griffith, CCC crew supervisor, known dancer, and author of the kids’ book Totem Magic: Going MAD, had the spectacular idea to create a dance that had one rule. That rule was that the dance had to be done outdoors. So he created what became the official BioBlitz Dance. It’s still spreading like wildfire on the internet and was very popular at the event itself! In fact, the CCC’s Bioblitz Dance was the grand finale of the event’s opening ceremony. Repeated onstage Bioblitz Dance performances were accompanied by dozens of middle-grade students, a National Park Ranger, Beth Pratt National Wildlife Federation’s California Director, and NWF’s mascot--a giant raccoon known as Ranger Rick. I will never forget the kids’ reactions to our dance. And I was amazed by how many already knew how to do it by watching our YouTube video, and that they also knew the one rule to the Bioblitz Dance: it must be done outdoors. It is these types of tiny seeds (experiences) being planted in childhoods that will spark the growth of stewardship for nature. Less than a month after we made the Bioblitz Dance video, we’ve had nine Bioblitz Dance video responses from outdoors groups all over the nation--and even one from Romania.

Events like the National Geographic’s BioBlitz connect kids (and corps members) to nature in a relevant way: they get to be citizen scientists. We all should strive to apart of this movement to reconnect kids to nature. (I think that is what the CCC does for young adults.) If we can edu-tain kids about nature, whether it be by rapping, dancing, using iNat to help scientists, or just engaging kids to play outdoors (and become corps members), then maybe we can ensure that there will be future stewards to care for the wild long after our generation has passed.

Special thanks to Rue Mapp of Outdoor Afro and Michelle O’Herron of the Golden Gate Parks Conservancy for getting the CCC involved in the Bioblitz Event. –Kevin Casbeer

 Here is a quote I love from Richard Louv who coined the phrase Nature deficit Disorder: “Developers and environmentalists, corporate CEOs and college professors, rock stars and ranchers may agree on little else, but they agree on this: no one among us wants to be a member of the last generation to pass on to our children the joy of playing outside in nature.”