Blog Post - Wyoming Conservation Corps: A Wyoming Tradition in Public Land and Conservation

Evan Townsend
Wyoming Conservation Corps

Originally published on the Wyoming Conservation Corps website on September 2, 2016
 

I know what you are thinking – another blog post celebrating the National Park Service’s 100 year anniversary. Or, yet another post from the WCC describing how important our work is and how good we look while doing it. Well, you are partially, right. It is a big deal that the United States of America is celebrating its famous park service that so many countries across the world have mimicked in some way or another. And, it is a big deal that the United States was the first industrial country to create the idea and implementation of public land. Most of all, it is a big deal that Wyoming holds the territory and statehood allowing for these world first’s.

Among some of the most treasured “first’s” that Wyoming has produced, one of them permitting women the right to vote, are the state’s first’s in public land. Forty-four years before the National Park Service took its beginning steps as an federal agency in 1916, the world’s first national park – Yellowstone (1872) – opened American eyes to the possibility of land to be sanctioned for the primary use of recreation administered by the federal government. Respectively, the first USA land set aside for pure recreation to be run by a state government was Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove in 1864 – a beacon of hope and pride in the midst of the bloody Civil War.

  • 1872 – World’s first national park – Yellowstone NP (Wyoming)
  • 1891 – World’s first Timber Reserve turned into a public National Forest – Shoshone NF (Wyoming)
  • 1906 – World’s first recreation based national monument – Devils Tower NM (Wyoming)
In the first decades of the national parks and public land in general, access had become a trademark of the wealthy and upper-class with the famous inns and lodges built to accommodate the elite. Then, the Great Depression hit Americans and the world in 1929 through the entirety of the 1930s and into the 1940s. The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was born out of a need to create jobs and worth for young men around the country from all walks of life or neighborhoods, build infrastructure on our public lands that accommodate all social classes, and promote the American ideal of liberty and pride through service for one’s country. Out of the 1,300 CCC camps across the country, 136 of them were located in Wyoming. One of the bigger Wyoming camps was located in Guernsey State Park and evidence of their amazing stone work can still be seen today.

The CCC years marked a new era for public land use. People from the middle-class and working-class could afford the time, money, and energy to visit our public lands and parks thanks both to a renewed interest in nature-based vacations and the wide-spread integration of the automobile. In 1971, the Youth Conservation Corps then came to exist employing young men AND WOMEN from all over the united states of all social classes, even youth as young as 14 years old, to continue the legacy of the CCC. You will never guess where one of their first projects were – Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

In the 1990s, semi-private non-profit conservation corps were being established all neighboring Wyoming and working on Wyoming’s public land. It was not until 2006 that Wyoming had it own conservation corps (WCC) to aid the other neighboring corps in working on the vast network of public land in Wyoming. We work diligently to work with project partners all over Wyoming, federal, state, and private, to improve public lands while empowering young adults to lead by example.

Every swing of our pick mattock, or axe bit chipping out wood, or evening campfire with glowing faces from various backgrounds and states, is an exercise in conservation and legacy.

 

The Corps Network Attends National Park Service's Find Your Park Launch Event

Today, members of The Corps Network staff attended a launch event at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the National Park Service and National Park Foundation's new Centennial anniversary #FindYourPark campaign. The goal of the initiative is simple: to connect new generations of Americans to their national parks in the ways that they find relevant and enjoyable. So Corps certainly have a role to play, as we know that many people want to volunteer and help maintain and protect their parks. 

The Corps Network staff was able to chat with Paul Ollig, Chief of Interpretation and Education for the National Mall & Memorial Parks.

"One of the great things about national parks is the opportunity to engage with all Americans and empower them to help us protect our national treasures. In 2016, the National Park Service Centennial provides a tremendous opportunity to expand the ways in which we reach out and engage new volunteers & organizations. Service and Conservation Corps and other groups through the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative will be among those who can help us tap the talents of new & diverse generations of stewards. I look forward to working with The Corps Network and other groups to do this," said Ollig.

The official event was short, but included remarks from National Park Service George Washington Memorial Parkway Chief of Staff Aaron LaRocca, National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis, White House Council on Environmental Quality Managing Director Christy Goldfuss, and National Park Foundation Acting President Dan Wenk.

The highlight was most certainly the recognition of a 4th grader who had completed 40 Junior Ranger programs nationwide. He was there in support of the Obama Administration's Every Kid in a Park Initiative that connects to the Find Your Park campaign.

The National Park Service also introduced several new exhibits, including a large interactive compass that directs you digitally to parks nationwide.

Last week, the LA Conservation Corps also attended a Find Your Park event and sent us the photo below, featuring LACC Corpsmember Bryan Langston, Russell Galipeau, Superintendant of the Channel Islands National Park, Jonathan Jarvis National Parks Director, and David Szymanski Superintendant of Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area.

The Corps Network looks forward to supporting the Find Your Park initiative over the coming years!

Boiler Plate: 
Today, members of The Corps Network staff attended a launch event at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C. for the National Park Service and National Park Foundation's new Centennial anniversary #FindYourPark campaign. The goal of the initiative is simple: to connect new generations of Americans to their national parks in the ways that they find relevant and enjoyable. So Corps certainly have a role to play, as we know that many people want to volunteer and help maintain and protect their parks.
Blog Slideshow: 

Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network, Interviewed for Park Leaders Podcast

36: Building Youth into Leaders with Mary Ellen Sprenkel 

The Corps Network's President and CEO, Mary Sprenkel, was featured in the latest episode of the Park Leaders Show, a podcast of ParkLeaders.com

Listen as Mary Ellen discusses the importance and impact of Corps. 

About Park Leaders:
Founded by former Park Ranger Jody Maberry, Park Leaders is "a community where Park Rangers and other champions of parks, recreation, and conservation can turn for resources to develop into stronger leaders." ParkLeaders.com offers podcasts, articles and other information to help Park Rangers and park advocates become stronger, more effective defenders and promoters of our public lands. 

 

The Corps Network Applauds the Release of the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Proposal

California Conservation Corps Corpsmembers work in Kings Canyon National Park.
 

200 Jobs to be Created Through the "National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps"


Secretary Jewell Announces Youth Corps to Help Restore New York, New Jersey Parks After Hurricane Sandy 

Taken from a Department of the Interior press release - May 30, 2013 (click here, or scroll down for full press release) 
 

On Thursday, May 30, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the launch of the “National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps.” This program, created through a partnership between the City of New York and the Student Conservation Association (SCA), will create about 200 jobs for young people to participate in Hurricane Sandy clean-up and restoration efforts. The Corps will initially focus on Gateway National Recreation Area and neighboring city parklands in Jamaica Bay, Queens. Their goal is to assist in recovery and damage mitigation throughout national park sites in New York City and New Jersey. These Corpsmembers will serve as role models for President Obama’s ongoing efforts to build a 21st Century Service Conservation Corps (21 CSC), based off President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s successful Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s.

2013 will serve as a pilot year of what is expected to be a multi-year program. The Corps was created through a public-private partnership, with funding from Hurricane Sandy Restoration and Recovery funds and matching SCA funds. American Eagle Outfitters is sponsoring 25 of the 200 corps members.

“President Obama has made Hurricane Sandy response efforts a top priority for his Administration,” said Jewell. “This youth corps will not only strengthen recovery and mitigation efforts in our National Parks throughout the region, but it will also serve as a model for the power of public-private partnerships to boost youth employment and connect young people to the great outdoors.”

 


The “National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation & Resiliency Corps” expected to create 200 jobs for youth in the region

QUEENS, NY — As part of President Obama’s commitment to expand employment opportunities for youth, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today launched the “National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps,” a partnership with the City of New York and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) that will provide approximately 200 jobs for young people in 2013 to participate in Hurricane Sandy recovery and clean-up efforts.

2013 will serve as a pilot year for what is expected to be a multi-year program for youth and young adults from around the region to assist in the response, recovery and mitigation of Hurricane Sandy damage within the national park units and their partner sites in New York City and New Jersey. The Corps will initially focus on Gateway National Recreation Area and adjoining city parklands at Jamaica Bay. Secretary Jewell’s announcement followed a Tuesday visit by President Obama to the New Jersey Shore, where he viewed rebuilding and recovery efforts underway.

“President Obama has made Hurricane Sandy response efforts a top priority for his Administration,” said Jewell. “This youth corps will not only strengthen recovery and mitigation efforts in our National Parks throughout the region, but it will also serve as a model for the power of public-private partnerships to boost youth employment and connect young people to the great outdoors.”

“America’s national parks are unrivaled inspirational assets and the passion of America’s youth is our most powerful resource,” stated Dale Penny, President & CEO of SCA, which is managing the resiliency corps. “Local students are telling us they are ready to do whatever it takes to help heal their community, and that pride and resiliency will prove stronger than any hurricane.” Youth interested in applying to the program can do so here.

The program is a public-private partnership, with funding from Hurricane Sandy Restoration and Recovery funds and matching SCA funds. American Eagle Outfitters is sponsoring 25 of the 200 corps members.

These 200 members of the new parks resiliency corps are in addition to the approximately 200 workers that New York City Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White announced on May 13 as part of the “Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Restoration Corps,” which was funded by an emergency grant from the U.S. and New York departments of labor.

“We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to ensure our region’s recovery from the damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy,” said White. “The creation of this new National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy and Resiliency Corps, combined with our Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Restoration Corps, is putting hundreds of New Yorkers to work while preserving some of our city’s richest ecological open spaces.”

“In addition to cleaning up damage from the hurricane, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps will be restoring habitat, rebuilding trails and other projects,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “These efforts not only help the parks recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but also begin to mitigate the effects of future storms and sea level rise.”

In July 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed an agreement between the city and the National Park Service for cooperative management of parklands. The partnership enables New York City parks and the National Park Service to work on each other’s lands, co-mingle resources and undertake joint planning efforts.

When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast on October 29, 2012, the storm affected nearly 70 national park sites. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the country's various conservation corps have played a vital role in efforts on-the-ground in the disaster-affected communities.

The newest corps members will serve as role models for the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to build a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, called 21 CSC. Building on the legacy of President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the 21 CSC aims to help young people – including diverse low-income, underserved and at-risk youth, as well as returning veterans – gain valuable training and work experience while accomplishing needed conservation and restoration service on public lands and waters.

Since 2009, when Interior established its Office of Youth in the Great Outdoors, the department and its agencies have built one of the largest and most visible youth programs at the national level, employing more than 84,000 youth through direct hires and partnerships.

Last week, Secretary Jewell announced that the Interior Department expects to hire approximately 17,000 young people to work on public lands this year.

2008 Project of the Year: Making Outdoor Recreation More Accessible

Winner: Utah Conservation Corps

Through the "Access to Service Project," Utah Conservation Corps developed service projects to include crew members with disablities. Fifty percent of the 8-person crew self-identified as having a physical disability. Disabilities among members included quadriplegia, epilepsy, traumatic brain injury and cerebral palsy.

In the first of their two main projects, the inclusive crew partherned with the US Forest Service to conduct an accessbility evaluation of the Wasatche-Chache National Forest and create a transition plan to help them meet federal requirements. They developed a user-friendly accessbility survey form that has become the standard for the region. They completed accessbility surveys for 8 campgrounds and 2 trails and developed 10 transition plans, immediately addressing the issues identified in one of the transition plans by constructing a fully accessible fishing pier at Second Dam picnic area in Logan Canyon. They partnered with Common Ground Outdoor Adventures, Logan City, local Boy Scouts and the Forest Service to make this happen.

For the second project: an accessible greenhouse and adapted gardening tools. The crew grew tomatoes, peppers, onions, eggplant, squash and herbs in raised beds and table top planters.

Another "Access to Service" goal was to involve people with disabilities in positions of leadership. Andy Zimmer, who has quadriplegia, served as a crew leader. By placing people with disabilities in positions of leadership, outdated stereotypes that limit people with disabilities are shattered and attitudes toward people with disabilities evolve and change. 

Vice President Joe Biden Visits Coconino Rural Environment Corps at Grand Canyon


 

This article was originally published in the Coconino Rural Environment Corps’ Newsletter.

Recently Vice President Joe Biden visited Grand Canyon National Park as part of a tour designed to highlight the effectiveness of projects within the National Park system funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The Vice President spoke at Hopi Point on the Canyon’s South Rim to a small crowd of elected officials, Park Service staff and CREC’s eight-person summer Grand Canyon crew. Mr. Biden referred to Grand Canyon as “a cathedral” and spoke about how the Recovery Act not only helped to create jobs in the Park and to address backlogged maintenance needs, but also represented an investment in our nation’s sacred places for the benefit of future generations. He described the task as one of maintaining access while minimizing impacts saying that the goal is to ensure that all people can experience parks while leaving behind an ever smaller footprint.

After the speech, Mr. Biden took time to recognize the CREC crew for their hard work in rebuilding the South Kaibab Trail – a Recovery funded project. The Vice President described AmeriCorps as “one of the best things President Clinton ever did,” and recognized the crew’s dedication by saying, “Your generation is volunteering in greater numbers than at any point in American History!”

 

Wearing a CREC hat and looking much like a Corpsmember himself, Mr. Biden then took individual pictures with each member of the crew as well as a group photo. For the crew, the Vice President’s visit was a monumental way to end the summer season. His visit occurred on the very last day of the crew’s three month hitch at Grand Canyon.