An occasional feature of BLM California's News.bytes

BLM, California State Parks and the Student Conservation Association

The future of public land management lies in the hands of the next generation. That's why BLM-California so highly values its strong partnership with the Student Conservation Association (SCA). SCA volunteers spend more than 1.6 million hours each year nationwide conserving our nation's natural spaces.

An SCA volunteer attacks an assignment with a mattock hoe

Here in California, BLM works closely with SCA Regional Director Rick Covington and Jay Watson, Regional Development Coordinator. Together, SCA and BLM have developed a program that puts students to work on the ground restoring and improving sensitive resources, and providing these young people service opportunities, outdoor skills, and leadership training.

SCA volunteers restore a vehicle way in the California desert

Although the partnership is expanding and evolving, much of the work to date on public lands in California has been in the California Desert. One current project focuses on restoration of Wilderness Areas. Called WildCorps, this project has accomplished substantial route reclamation within wilderness areas using funding provided by the California Department of Parks and Recreation's Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division. Using hand tools, innovative restoration techniques, and the latest GPS/GIS technology, SCA reclaimed or “hid” over 1,400 old vehicle routes within 64 BLM Wilderness Areas in the Desert. In addition to this project, WildCorps has been expanded to include inventorying and monitoring desert water sources crucial to the survival of many desert wildlife species and conservation work in King Range National Conservation Area, Cache Creek Natural Area, and the Pacific Crest Trail.

SCA interns gain extensive experience in conservation and land management programs. In return, the public agencies receive quality labor at nearly half the cost of regular government rates from an enthusiastic and passionate group of individuals. Even more important, the SCA interns' experience instills an ethic of conservation and inspires lifelong stewardship that also nurtures future land managers . As many as 60 percent of SCA alumni ending up working as conservation professionals in the public and private sector.

The following are some examples of this restoration work.

Area of Nopah Range Wilderness, before...
Route through Nopah Range Wilderness, before
...and Nopah Range Wilderness, after:
Plants grow on the former route in the Nopah Range Wilderness

Clipper Mountains Wilderness, before...
route through Clipper Mountains Wilderness, before

...and Clipper Mountains Wilderness, after:
Route through Clipper Mountains Wilderness instead has growing plants

Old Woman Wilderness, before...
Two-track route through Old Woman Wilderness, past a marker
... and Old Woman Wilderness, after:
Plants grow where a two-track once ran through Old Woman Wilderness

BLM California News.bytes, issue 233

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