The Corps Network Sends Sign-On Letter in Support of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act to Capitol Hill and the Administration

*Versions of this letter were sent to officials in the Obama Administration as well as staff from the Senate Agriculture Committee and the House and Senate Natural Resources Committees. 
 

November 10, 2015


To Whom It May Concern:

On behalf of The Corps Network’s Service and Conservation Corps (Corps) across the country, we write to respectfully request your support for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, H.R. 167 and S. 235. This important legislation will reform how wildfire suppression is funded in order to significantly minimize the harmful practice of transferring funds from critical programs to pay for wildfire suppression. The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would fund response to the most disastrous wildfires similar to how the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) funds other disaster response under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. Instead of competing with funding for response to other natural disasters such as floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes, wildfire disasters would have their own relief mechanism.

The Corps Network’s 100+ Corps are diverse in mission and membership and strive to improve quality of life for our participants and in our communities. From building trails and campgrounds on our nation’s iconic public lands, to responding to natural disasters and wildfire remediation and fighting, Corps provide communities with valuable services, improve lives, and the environment. Increasing disasters such as fires, risk the lives of Corpsmembers as well as interrupt other recreation, maintenance, and economic development activities on public lands.

Wildfire seasons are getting longer and major wildfires are becoming increasingly more costly to suppress. This national problem is causing a crippling burden on the Department of the Interior and the USDA Forest Service’s land management functions as they shift resources to fund suppression activities. Federal wildfire suppression will always be fully funded by the government – even if it comes at the expense of programs that improve forest health and mitigate future wildfires. However, this current ad hoc process of funding wildfire is inefficient and ineffective in delivering on nationwide agency land management priorities set by Congress and virtually assures that overall federal outlays will increase.

We believe a solution to fire funding should: 1) allow access to disaster funding; 2) minimize impacts from transfers; and 3) address the increasing costs of suppression over time. The WDFA, (S. 235, H.R. 167) is a bipartisan proposal that addresses these three items. We encourage you to incorporate WDFA language in the FY2016 appropriations or other related legislative vehicles moving through Congress to ensure this serious budgetary issue is addressed this year.

Additionally, since the Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) was not reauthorized in the most recent Continuing Resolution and the fund continues to be used to pay for wildfire suppression, it is also important that take action be taken to fully fund and reauthorize LWCF. Without LWCF, access to our public lands is diminished and proactive forest management provided through LWCF’s Forest Legacy Program is reduced. We cannot afford for conservation programs like LWCF to bear the burden of wildfire suppression and fighting.

We again respectfully urge your support for Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA) language in the FY16 appropriations omnibus or passage through other must-pass legislative vehicles. The WDFA is a critical, important step to ensure the long-term sustainability of our nation’s forests and other public lands and our Corps stand ready to continue helping manage and improve our nation’s important natural resources and great outdoors.

Sincerely,

Mary Ellen Sprenkel
CEO

Co-signed:
The Member Corps of The Corps Network
 

California Conservation Corps Corpsmembers Continue Fire Response

From the California Conservation Corps

This week the California Conservation Corps has more than 600 corpsmembers -- 47 crews -- out on eight different wildfires, including the devastating Valley Fire in Lake County.

Crews are involved in fire suppression and fire camp support for Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Service. There are also two crews helping displaced residents at a Red Cross shelter.

Photos: Camarillo fire crews on the Rough Fire in Fresno County

Boiler Plate: 
This week the California Conservation Corps has more than 600 corpsmembers -- 47 crews -- out on eight different wildfires, including the devastating Valley Fire in Lake County.

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.

California Conservation Corps Sends Crews to Big Sur Fire

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

It may be December, but members of the California Conservation Corps were still sent to a forest fire.  Thirty corpsmembers from the CCC's Monterey Bay Center were dispatched Monday to the Pfeiffer Fire in the Big Sur area. 

The corpsmembers are assisting the U.S. Forest Service with logistical support at the fire camp.

The fire, located in the Los Padres National Forest, destroyed at least a dozen homes, including one belonging to the local fire chief.

Boiler Plate: 
It may be December, but members of the California Conservation Corps were still sent to a forest fire. Thirty corpsmembers from the CCC's Monterey Bay Center were dispatched Monday to the Pfeiffer Fire in the Big Sur area.

SCA's Veterans Fire Corps Receives National and Local Press Attention


 

Thank you to Kevin Hamilton, SCA, Vice President of Communications, for sharing these articles

The Student Conservation Association's Veterans Fire Corps recently received press coverage in Stars and Stripes, The Buffalo Bulletin (Wyoming), and The Craig Daily Press (Colorado). Click the links below to read the articles in their entirety and find out how the Corps helps veterans transition back to civilian life.


 

Stars and Stripes

By Michael A. Madalena 

The men and women I’m training know we’re about to confront a merciless enemy. We are all military veterans, and in the field we have an objective, a plan, and the flexibility to change tactics midstream — just as in the armed forces.

In this case our adversary isn’t al-Qaida or any of the other combatants I faced with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan and Iraq; it’s not even human but it eats, breathes and grows.

It’s the nearly 32,000 wildfires that the U.S. Department of the Interior says have burned more than 3.4 million acres nationwide this year. These are not low-intensity ground fires, but “mega fires” created from lack of mitigation and irregular historic fire regimes.

I’m a crew leader for the nonprofit Student Conservation Association’s Veterans Fire Corps...keep reading.

 

The Buffalo Bulletin

By Holly Kays

When Joe Svidron’s days as an active member of the U.S. Marine Corps ended and his time as a park management major began, the transition was anything but smooth. After four years in the military, college was like a foreign land, full of younger students whose world of fashion and fads was nothing like the one Svidron left when he enlisted, and military discipline had nothing in common with college life.
 
“Going back to school wasn’t so great, and it was hard to acclimate because everybody’s five, six, seven years younger than you,” Svidron said. “The things they’re doing now you had no clue were going on when you were in the military, so it’s kind of foreign to you. You’re looking for that camaraderie and that sense of purpose and accomplishment again, and it’s not really there in the civilian sector.”
 
All that changed when Svidron stumbled across an advertisement for the Student Conservation Association Veterans Fire Corps...keep reading.

 

The Craig Daily Press

By Matt Stensland

After spending a year deployed with the Army in Iraq, Elder Pyatt had to adjust to civilian life when he finished his service in 2008.

Life in the military moves much faster, said Pyatt, who served to earn money for college.

“There is an adjustment period,” he said.

In the Army, Pyatt used mechanic’s tools to work on large military vehicles. This summer, he is removing limbs from beetle-killed lodgepole pine trees near Stagecoach with a chain saw, which he never really had used before.

“Not in this capacity,” Pyatt said. “Like yard work kind of stuff.”

Pyatt, whose goal is to earn a master's degree, is joined by three other veterans and a crew leader...keep reading

California Conservation Corps Crews Sent to Silver Fire and Six Other Fires

More than 300 members of the California Conservation Corps -- including 100 on Riverside County's Silver Fire -- have been dispatched to assist Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Services on fires throughout the state.

On Southern California's Silver Fire near Banning, there are eight CCC crews, providing both firefighting assistance and logistical support at the fire camp.  The corpsmembers are working under the direction of Cal Fire.

The CCC is also assigned to the Aspen Fire (Fresno County); Butler Fire (Humboldt County); Dance Fire (Humboldt County); Falls Fire (Riverside County); Power Fire (Tuolumne County); and the Salmon River Complex (Siskiyou County).  These crews are working under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.

The crews are from 15 different CCC locations: Camarillo, Chico, Fortuna, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Stockton,Ukiah, Watsonville and Yreka.

This has been a busy fire season for the CCC, with corpsmembers providing more than 40,000 hours of assistance during July.

Boiler Plate: 
More than 300 members of the California Conservation Corps -- including 100 on Riverside County's Silver Fire -- have been dispatched to assist Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Services on fires throughout the state.

California Conservation Corps Dispatches Over 100 Corpsmembers to Fires

Photo Credit: California Conservation Corps

*** May 3rd Update ***

MORE CREWS DISPATCHED TO FIRES NORTH AND SOUTH

As of May 3, the CCC has 165 corpsmembers (12 crews) assigned to fires throughout the state, working under the direction of Cal Fire.  Both initial-attack and logistical support crews have been dispatched. 

Four crews are assigned to the Springs Fire near Camarillo in Ventura County.  The crews are from Camarillo, Los  Angeles, Pomona and San Luis Obispo. On the Summit Fire near Banning in Riverside County, CCC crews from Camarillo, Pomona and San Bernardino are working. And in southeastern Tehama County, CCC crews from Chico, Redding and Ukiah are providing camp support.

The CCC is one of the state's premier emergency response agencies and has additional crews available to be dispatched where needed.

The Los Angeles Times has posted an article, photos, and video about the fire. The video shows Camarillo 21 cutting line with helicopter drops on the Springs Fire. If you look down in the article there is a link that says “Photos: Camarillo Brush Fire” picture # 30 and 32 are CM’s from Crew 21. 

 


More than 100 members of the California Conservation Corps have been dispatched to fires in both Northern and Southern California.

Two Camarillo fire crews and two camp support crews from Pomona and San Bernardino have responded to the Summit Fire in Riverside County. Another Camarillo fire crew has been sent to the Springs Fire in Ventura County. And CCC crews from Chico, Redding and Ukiah are providing logistical support on the Panther Fire in Butte County.

All of the crews are working under the direction of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.