03.23.15

From Military Service to Green Service: coming to the Black Mountain Wilderness, CA

A 10-member all-veterans conservation corps is kicking off of a two-week project March 24 to restore wildlife habitat and improve signage within the Black Mountain Wilderness near Barstow, CA, thanks to a grant from Edison International made to the Conservation Lands Foundation. In addition to improving wildlife habitat and enhancing visitors’ experience to the Black Mountain Wilderness, the partnership provides employment and job training for young veterans.

Edison International’s $35,000 grant supports CLF’s ongoing Veterans-Youth Conservation Corps Partnership, launched in 2012. The partnership aims to restore wildlife habitat and create jobs on the National Conservation Lands, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and is a unique collaboration of private funders, youth conservation corps, veterans, BLM, and community volunteers. Other projects have taken place in McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area along the popular boating stretch of Colorado River known as Ruby-Horsethief, as well as in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument where crews fixed trails damaged by fire and flooding and protected habitat for Penisula bighorn sheep.

The Veterans Conservation Corps beginning work near Barstow is made up of post-9/11 veterans who are with the California Conservation Corps, based in San Bernardino. Other partners include staff from the BLM Barstow Field Office and the California Wilderness Coalition (CalWild), who will be bringing 15 college students from Cal-State Long Beach to participate in a special volunteer day at the area on March 28. The veterans crew will “spike camp” near the area and work 10-hour days. In return, they receive pay, job skills, mentoring by BLM staff, AmeriCorps education awards, and additional training that can help them transition into permanent positions with land management agencies.

The Black Mountain Wilderness is in California’s Mojave Desert and is used by the public for hiking, camping, horseback riding and other outdoor recreation. Ranging in elevation from 2,080 to 3,941 feet at its summit, the area is one of only four places in the state that is home to the endangered plant species, Lane Mountain milk-vetch (Astragalus jaegerianus), as well as to golden eagles, prairie falcons and impressive spring wildflowers.

The Black Mountain Wilderness is part of the National Conservation Lands managed by the BLM. In California, the National Conservation Lands include nearly five million acres made up of national monuments, national conservation areas, wilderness areas, wild and scenic rivers and national scenic and historic trails.

The staff of the Conservation Lands Foundation is extremely grateful to Edison International for supporting its Restoration Program, and for the partners involved in the project. We look forward to meeting the crew next weekend seeing your great progress on the ground.

Questions? Contact char@conservationlands.org

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