YCC digs in to help area forests


News intern

The words “fun”, “new”, “different” and “educational” don’t describe a lot of typical summer jobs. But those were the words that members of the Hood River Youth Conservation Corps used to describe their Forest Service jobs.

Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) is a federal program in its 30th year for people between the ages of 15 and 18 to gain a positive work experience while working on national forests and teaching about management of outdoor areas, according to David Gross, the Senior, Youth and Volunteer Program Manager for the Barlow Ranger District.

Over the course of the program’s 30 years there have been several different ways that it has been funded.

“Money from Congress funded the program until 1981,” said Gross. “Then funding from Congress was cut and we had to spend our own (Forest Service) money.”

Yet, over 90 percent of the funding for YCC comes from outside the Forest Service.

Local funding comes from the Oregon Youth Conservation Corps in Salem, Mid-Columbia Council of Governments, Trust Management Services and the Hood River County Juvenile Department.

“Back when timber was a bigger part of the revenues in Hood River County, 25 percent of that went to YCC but now we’ve had to look to support from the community,” said Gross.

The workers in the YCC come from all over the Hood River Valley. “I probably receive 40 or 45 applications to fill the 10 positions we have,” Gross said. “The selection process is totally random. The only requirements we have is that the applicants be between 15 and 18 years old. This is so we can have anyone from any social, economic and ethnic backgrounds participate. We do a lot of outreach to the Hispanic community so they can have the opportunity to work and learn about forest management.”

The group does projects such as building and repairing fire pits in campgrounds, maintaining trails, and pruning white pine trees to help them avoid disease. Crew members unanimously declared constructing a fence to be the favorite project; weed control and pruning were agreed to be the least favorite of activities.

The teens in the group work for eight weeks, meeting every day and taking a van to their work site. They receive minimum wage for their 40 hour work week as well as an opportunity to earn high school credit.

The crew is led by forest service employees Shannon Bleding and Rose Cartwright and includes crew members Yuliana Anguiana, Jeremy Evans, Angella Juarez, Rocio Juarez, Benie Lopez, Justin Lucas, Gabriella Munana, Karl Nachmann, Robert Paasch and Angela Velasquez.

“It’s awesome that the Forest Service is giving young people a chance to do something positive with their summer,” commented Cartwright. “Instead of flipping burgers or other jobs that a lot of kids have.”

Many of the crew members agreed that this summer’s work experience was a positive one.

“It’s good for teamwork,” said Lucas. “Our group comes to a lot of conflicts, but we work them out together.”

“This is a good experience for me because without it, I would likely just be sitting at home,” said Evans. “It’s good to get out and get some exercise. But it also makes me want to get an education so I don’t have to do this manual labor for a living.”

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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