Youth Conservation Corps hard at work in Colusa County

Jake Pence (crew leader ---holding the black cloth), Sheila Dollarhide, Garrett Spaan (park ranger), and Kyle Johnson

Youth Conservation Corps members in the area are hard at work at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and have been putting in hours at both the Colusa and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges in Colusa County.

The Youth Conservation Corps is a summer employment program for young men and women ages 15 through 18. Program participants “work, learn and earn together” by doing projects on public lands. In addition to providing employment to the young people and accomplishing necessary conservation work on those public lands, the program works to foster in participants an understanding and appreciation of the natural environment and heritage of the U.S.

“We have two crews (working at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex). One works off of the main refuge, and the other works off of the Sacramento River Refuge,” said Lora Haller, the visitor services manager at the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “They spend some days working together, and others working apart, but the two groups help us to cover the whole complex.”

The crew at the main refuge is comprised of kids from Princeton, along with kids from the Glenn County communities of Willows and Artois.

The crew works for eight weeks during the summer, splitting their time between the Delevan, Colusa and the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges as needed.

Haller said that she typically receives around 90 applicants for a total of eight to nine positions. Aside from the youth from Princeton, there were no other applicants from Colusa County.

“We usually get a bunch of applicants from Maxwell, but no one from Maxwell applied this year,” Haller said. “The town of Colusa tends to be too far, and the kids don’t want to drive all the way to the main refuge.”

While there aren’t many kids from Colusa County participating, the county’s public lands are certainly benefiting. In the county, recent YCC projects include maintaining the native plant garden at the Colusa refuge and re-brushing the mobility impaired hunt blinds at Delevan.

“Last November, we had a volunteer crew from Chico State that came out for a couple of days and help us clean up the non-native plants in the (Colusa) refuge and plant native ones,” Haller said. “The YCC’s work was just upkeep that needed to be done in that garden.”

The garden consists of all kinds of native plants, including multiple varieties of Milkweed, California Poppies, California Wild Rose, Coyote Bush, Black Willow, Valley Oak, Purple Needle Grass, Salt Grass, and Gum Weed.

Haller said that the crew helped remove invasive weeds as well as put down shade cloth and place bark to keep the invasive weeds from sprouting back up.

At Delevan – and at all of the refuges of the complex — the YCC crew has been in charge of cleaning up and re-brushing the hunting blinds.■

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net