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Veterans gain job skills while reducing Lake Tahoe wildfire risk

By ThisIsReno

USFS NEWS RELEASE

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Pacific Southwest Regional Forester Randy Moore and California Conservation Corps (CCC) Director David Muraki today visited a crew of military veterans who are preparing for future employment while they’re helping to protect Lake Tahoe communities from wildfire.

“The Veterans Green Corps program is a win-win for everyone,” said Moore. “It provides training and jobs for veterans and accomplishes much needed ecological restoration projects, including fuels reduction work.”

The veterans were hard at work felling dead trees and piling them for burning on lands affected by the 2007 Angora Fire on the U.S. Forest Service Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit. A main focus of the veterans’ work is reducing hazardous forest fuels near communities.

The program provides veterans the opportunity to gain work experience that can help them make the transition to civilian employment. Crew members range in age from 19-26, and represent every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard.

The CCC, a state agency, hires young men and women for a year of natural resource work and emergency response.  The program was created by Governor Jerry Brown during his first term as governor in 1976, and since that time there have been more than 115,000 participants.

In 2008, the CCC, in partnership with Veterans Green Jobs, began developing an initiative to involve recently returned veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan in a CCC program providing a transition from military service to civilian life. The CCC was selected by the Forest Service to participate in a national  veterans project. In the Pacific Southwest Region, three crews were recruited to provide critical forestry work in the Lake Tahoe Basin and on the Cleveland and Sierra national forests.

The crews help the Forest Service get work done on the ground, making the most of Lake Tahoe’s short field season.  Additionally, the Forest Service gains a pool of well-qualified applicants for future job opportunities with the agency.

Before beginning work, the crew went through some basic training, which included wildland firefighting and timber-cutting (sawyer) skills, followed by work alongside experienced Forest Service crew members. Their jobs have included clearing brush, thinning vegetation and preparing and burning prescribed fire units, both on Forest Service urban lots and in the Angora fire area. The crew will work on the LTBMU through October.

“The Forest Service is a great partner and it’s a privilege to join with them to help veterans prepare for resource management careers through work on important forestry projects,” said Muraki.