River Partners builds homes for wildlife, and our projects build opportunities for people, too. Over many years, our partnership with the California Conservation Corps (CCC) has helped prepare hundreds of young adults for environmentally focused careers. In return, the hard work of Corpsmembers makes it possible for River Partners to efficiently and effectively restore thousands of acres of habitat every year.
CCC Corpsmembers are 18 to 25 years old or military veterans up to age 29. They enroll for a year of paid service improving and enhancing California’s natural resources, living and working at their CCC center or commuting daily to the job in their communities.
The CCC builds integrity … at the end of the day it encourages me because it has purpose. Knowing animals would have their habitat restored, actually seeing the wildlife. It’s uplifting.
When we got there it looked depressing, just a whole field of dirt. And, when they explained why we were doing the work – and not just digging holes and planting tules – it made it more intriguing…making a home for animals. I thought it was super cool.”
—Jennifer Salinas, Corpsmember, CCC Delta Center, Stockton, CA.
During 2019 and 2020, River Partners collaborated with the CCC on projects across California, including a wetlands restoration project along Dutch Slough in Contra Costa County.
For eight weeks, 15 Corpsmembers from the CCC Delta Center in Stockton helped prepare pastureland for its conversion back into wetland. Prior to breaking a levee to let water from the slough return to the field, Corpsmembers and River Partners staff worked to plant native tule.
A few hundred miles to the south, CCC Fresno crews collaborated with River Partners to remove invasive species along the San Joaquin River in Fresno County. A crew of 15 Corpsmembers assisted River Partners in clearing hundreds of yards of invasive red sesbania (scarlet wisteria) and arundo donax. Invasive plants steal water from native species and crowd them out along the river. Corpsmembers learn the importance of removing invasive species and how such vegetation can negatively impact wildfire.
The lessons learned from these habitat restoration projects benefit Corpsmembers when they begin to look for jobs after their year of paid service in the CCC. Delta and Fresno Corpsmembers who worked on these projects have since gone on to jobs with State Parks, National Park Service, and other conservancies and state agencies.
Looking to the future, facing the dual challenges of climate change and habitat loss means championing restoration projects and building the green infrastructure workforce to support large-scale ecosystem repair. River Partners is proud of our collaboration with CCC, and all the corpsmembers who will go on to become tomorrow’s conservation leaders.
VIDEO: Corpsmembers plant trees at River Partners’ San Dieguito restoration site.