Corpsmembers will find themselves tackling a range of projects, from working on the beach with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean to working trails in wilderness areas of the Los Padres National Forest and the Big Sur coast.
In photos above, working on a boardwalk for viewing elephant seals, on the coast north of Hearst Castle.
The Los Padres Center's natural resource projects include trail rehabilitation, trail construction, fire hazard reduction, tree planting, native plant restoration, landscaping, park development and minor construction. Center projects take place primarily in San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and southern Monterey counties, although projects from one end of the state to the other are not uncommon.
The fundamental concept in the center's success has been building and maintaining relationships with local conservation land management groups and city, county, state and federal agencies. These relationships have led to long-lasting partnerships that keep the CCC actively involved in successful resource enhancement projects.
The CCC has local partnerships with the Department of Fish & Game, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, California State Parks, the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, Morro Estuary Greenbelt Alliance, the United States Forest Service, resource conservation districts, community services districts and local nonprofit land conservancies. These partners, along with the state Natural Resources Agency, Coastal Conservancy and the Nature Conservancy consistently call on the Los Padres Center to assist with the planning and execution of their resource enhancement projects.
I truly can't say how much I appreciate what the crew did for us. Their work ethic was fantastic; all I ever saw of the crew was the backs of their heads. They stayed on task [Salinas River cleanup] and despite a difficult environment knocked the work out in no time."
-- Charles Lorenzen
Maintenance Services Supervisor
City of Paso Robles
The Los Padres Center also has a number of special programs. These include:
Fire Safe Council Community Chipping Program
The Los Padres Center operates the CCC’s only Fire Safe Council partnership. This partnership provides free brush chipping to San Luis Obispo County residents through a federal grant, passed through CAL FIRE which contracts with CCC to provide corpsmember labor, supervision and equipment. The Fire Safe Chipping Program is a critical part of the wildfire prevention program in San Luis Obispo County.
Seasonal Backcountry Trails Program
Corpsmembers are recruited and transferred to Los Padres Center from the CCC's summer backcountry program to perform similar work in the Los Padres National Forest and the California State Park system from September to December. The crew generally works 10-day "spikes" in various parts of the Los Padres National Forest.
Morro Bay National Estuary Program Partnership
The Los Padres Center has developed a major working relationship with the Morro Bay National Estuary program that funds a CCC watershed crew to work in the estuary's watershed. The watershed crew is involved in bank repair to prevent erosion; the dismantling of derelict boats threatening to pollute the bay; eelgrass planting in the bay, fence removal and riparian protection, removal of exotic plants and grasses; and salmon and steelhead in-stream habitat restoration. The CCC has been awarded $100,000 per year for each of the last three years to do this work.
Salmon and Steelhead Restoration Program
Since 1998 the Los Padres Center has developed a comprehensive approach to steelhead recovery on the Central Coast and has provided the workforce to implement the recovery effort. We have worked closely with the Department of Fish and Game and local watershed steward groups for projects that will provide a direct benefit to steelhead. These include habitat assessment and inventory; riparian restoration; in-stream habitat enhancement; GIS mapping, exotic species removal; fish passage improvement; stream bank stabilization; upper watershed erosion control; and cattle- exclusion fencing in sensitive riparian areas. We’ve successfully developed pilot projects with private land owners, assisting them in accessing funding resources and working with government agencies.
Montana Work Exchange
The Los Padres Center is currently the only location doing an annual exchange with a conservation corps from another state, the Montana Conservation Corps. Typically six Los Padres corpsmembers and a crew supervisor work on trails for two weeks in Yellowstone National Park, as part of the exchange. Montana corpsmembers then come to San Luis Obispo in the fall to work alongside CCC corpsmembers.
The Los Padres Center currently participates in three different AmeriCorps programs:
1) This full-time program places up to seven corpsmembers in an “intern partnership” with a local nonprofit organization, Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo. Corpsmembers are professionally trained and work alongside CAPSLO employees to weatherize homes of local low- income residents. This program is a great way to serve the community, learn valuable lifetime weatherization “green” skills, and earn a full-time AmeriCorps educational award after 1700 hours of service in the program. The program recruits for new members during June and July each year.
2) The center participates in the CCC’s “AmeriCorps Educational Award” program. This program is operated at most CCC locations and provides corpsmembers either a part-time or full-time AmeriCorps educational scholarship in exchange for 11 months of service in the CCC and community volunteer time. The center is always actively recruiting and offering these positions to current corpsmembers who will learn more details during the initial COMET training.
3) The Watershed Stewards Program. The Center, along with local partner agencies, is host to a small number of AmeriCorps Watershed Stewards members. These full-time AmeriCorps members work on a variety of local natural resource projects and conduct educational events in local communities. This is a great opportunity for corpsmembers and/or college graduates in the biology and natural resource management field to receive practical field experience with land management professionals. They make contacts for future job placement and earn full-time AmeriCorps educational awards that can help them plan for college or pay off college loans. This program recruits in June and July each year through the AmeriCorps national Web site.
Emergency Response: With its location on the Central Coast, Los Padres crews can respond within a five-hour drive to locations from Los Angeles to San Francisco to the Central Valley.