Protecting Urban Green Spaces

Las Cruces Xeriscape

Groundwork Dona Ana County

Las Cruces, NM

The Las Cruces Xeriscape Project is a collaborative effort between Groundwork Dona Ana County, Inc (GWDA), Youth Conservation Corp (YCC) and the City of Las Cruces (CLC) to provide an opportunity for GWDA’s Youth Green Team to install xeriscaping as a method of reducing water usage and maintenance on publicly owned lands. The areas selected for treatment are small “pocket parks” that are currently planted with grasses and require regular irrigation, fertilization and mowing. By removing the turf and replacing it with native plants and natural gravel and rocks, the City will reduce water usage, reduce maintenance costs, and create more sustainable landscapes. (The Green Team is also helping to replant the removed turf in worn areas of the larger parks.) A water management team is scheduled to train the youth in water harvesting methods and water conservation systems that will be installed as a Green Team project. Green Team crew members are immersed in an environment that emphasizes the development of self-confidence, self-awareness, constructive feedback, problem solving skills, leadership development, and a strong work ethic. Project outcomes include job skills, understanding of environmental issues, environmental stewardship, leadership skills, community engagement, and knowledge of sustainable landscape design and practices.

 

Pinkham Basin Environmental Enhancement Project

Sequoia Community Corps

Visalia, CA

The Sequoia Community Corps has been contracted by the City of Visalia to upgrade and improve ponding basins around the City. The goal of the city wide strategy is to convert retention basins into passive recreation parks that can be utilized by members of the public. The Sequoia Community Corps is currently working on the Pinkham ponding basin. The Corps has assisted through grant opportunities and project delivery.

Generally, a retention basin is fenced off and inaccessible at the property boundary, primarily for liability concerns with public access to the basin itself. The City’s objective is to relocate these fences to the top of the basin bank, which results in publicly accessible land encircling the basin while still mitigating the liability of the basin itself. On this land that is accessible to the public, the Sequoia Community Corps will plant native, drought-tolerant habitat/landscaping, install associated irrigation, and install a trail that circumnavigates the basin. At the completion of the project, a previously unused and inaccessible ponding basin is converted to a passive recreation park with walking trails and drought-tolerant landscaping.

 

Laguna de Santa Rosa Clean up

Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps

Santa Rosa, California

Cleaning up the Laguna de Santa Rosa

The Laguna de Santa Rosa is located in the Russian River watershed just north of San Francisco in Northern California. Historically, the Laguna de Santa Rosa (Laguna) “supported a diverse ecosystem consisting of oak savanna/vernal pool complexes, riparian forest, emergent and off channel wetlands, and open water.” (Laguna de Santa Rosa Ecological History Study Proposal, February 2011). In addition to providing a rich ecosystem for native peoples, plants and animals, the Laguna provided significant flood protection to the lower Russian River by detaining peak flows from its watershed and receiving excess flows from the Russian River.

The 256-square mile watershed contains several cities, including Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Cotati, Rohnert Park and Windsor, resulting in intensive modification of the Laguna. Today, the Laguna is an impaired waterway, with sediment from development, agriculture, roadways and logging practices choking its byways. The flood-control benefits provided by the Laguna are still significant, but have been reduced by sedimentation, trash and debris accumulation and poor vegetation management in key areas. Trash and debris accumulate in the same sections of the Laguna every year. (See photo).

In August of 2013 one Sonoma County Youth Ecology Corps (SCYEC) crew (8 young people, aged 16-24)removed trash and debris for a two week time period. They removed 8 cubic yards of trash and recycling, and documented the types of trash and debris. The Sonoma County Water Agency, private landowners, Goldridge Resource Conservation District (RCD) and the Laguna Foundation have assessed the Laguna further and determined trash and debris have accumulated in additional locations, clogging the waterway, impeding recreational uses and limiting flood protection.

In the eight-week summer of 2014 one SCYEC crew and crew leader will be supported through a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) grant. This crew will work under the supervision of Goldridge RCD who will supervise the trash and debris removal in Mark West Creek and the Laguna. Goldridge RCD provides tremendous experience supervising projects of this nature and a strong relationship with landowners adjacent to the project sites. The crew will sort trash, woody debris and recycling into piles. Trash and recycling will be hauled away. Woody debris will dry on site and then be hauled off site to produce biochar, a soil amendment that is created by burning wood without the presence of oxygen. Goldridge RCD operates a biochar facility. The North Bay Corporation, a local trash and recycling company will donate trash bins to aid in the clean up.

The trash and debris removal project in the Laguna exemplifies the power of collaboration. The Department of Fish and Wildlife and the State Water Resources Control Board visited the site and provided permits for the work to proceed. The SCYEC, Private landowners, Goldridge RCD, the Water Agency, the Laguna Foundation and the North Bay Corporation have worked together on a project that improves water quality for the benefit of the entire watershed. While removing trash and debris, youth working for the SCYEC learn about the connection between urban runoff and its effect on a local waterway. This project will continue to impact the Laguna de Santa Rosa in a positive way for years to come.

 

SCA’s DC Community Corps

Student Conservation Association

United States

The program will field crews of high school youth in a six-eight week program consisting of job-readiness training and conservation service in local parks and green spaces. Crew members will be engaged full-time and will be provided a stipend or wage for their commitment and hard work.

Crew members will build on their skills development and knowledge throughout the summer as they complete conservation service projects in city and national parks and other green spaces and learn about green jobs from mentoring sessions conducted by conservation and sustainability professionals. SCA crew leaders will use the surrounding ecosystems as a teaching tool and will engage crew members in lessons that help them recognize first-hand the relationship between human behavior and environmental outcomes. Following SCA’s “rule” that learning can and should involve having fun and getting dirty, the program will include outdoor recreation and an overnight camping trip.

Community Program goals include:

 Career Exploration: Youth are prepared and motivated to search for, obtain and retain employment pursuant to their interests and skills. They build awareness of career options and related pathways, especially in the conservation field, in the green economy, and within SCA.

 Youth Development: Young people are transformed into healthy, productive adults through meaningful conservation and community service which provides a solid sense that they can contribute to the fabric and productivity of a more sustainable society.

 Leadership: Youth develop confidence and skills that will serve them in personal and professional interactions, community action and the natural world.

 Community Stewardship: Youth understand that the health of the land is interconnected with the health of the community. They are empowered and inspired to improve their communities through the direct action of hands-on work projects that build their job skills.

Crew members will build on their skills development and knowledge throughout the summer as they complete conservation service projects in city and national parks and other green spaces and learn about green jobs from mentoring sessions conducted by conservation and sustainability professionals. SCA crew leaders will use the surrounding ecosystems as a teaching tool and will engage crew members in lessons that help them recognize first-hand the relationship between human behavior and environmental outcomes. Following SCA’s “rule” that learning can and should involve having fun and getting dirty, the program will include outdoor recreation and an overnight camping trip.

SCA’s Green Job Readiness Curriculum will be delivered by SCA crew leaders and woven throughout the summer program. The curriculum activities are designed to enrich crew experiences with learning focused on three critical themes: work-readiness competencies, ecological literacy, and green career pathways. It provides youth a foundation of knowledge in local, regional, and global environmental issues, introduces them to green career pathways, and facilitates the development of pre-vocational skills needed to take advantage of those opportunities. Implementation incorporates field trips, hands-on work, participant-driven content, reinforcement of key concepts, and field trips. The ultimate goal of the curriculum is to equip Community Program participants with the skills necessary for a successful transition into the world of work, while working to instill in them an ethic of conservation stewardship and civic responsibility.

Curriculum deliverables include:

 Train youth for sustainable, green jobs as part of America’s future workforce, especially in the green jobs sector

 Enable youth to acquire a culture of environmental literacy and stewardship

 Prepare youth for hire as full-time employees by local businesses and nonprofit organizations

 Allow youth to become self-sufficient and able to use their skills to apply for community college and other career opportunities

 Increase program participation in subsequent years

 Create a network of business and nonprofit organizations willing and able to host participants as interns and to hire them as employees

 

Fort Circle Parks

Urban Archeology Corps

Washington, DC

In FY2012-2014, the NPS will partner with Groundwork Anacostia to conduct a park-based project in the National Capital Region. Parks have identified a number of archeological places where stewardship is a concern due to visitor use or abuse. Youth will complete a project that bridges the attitudes and assumptions of the NPS and surrounding communities and visitors with regard to resource stewardship. To do so, the youth will first gain knowledge of archeological resources and processes. They will learn historical research skills and gain the ability to “read” a cultural landscape for changes over time. The youth will next go into the community to gather oral histories and talk with park users. As a result, the youth will develop individual projects that feed into a group project to present their findings to the NPS and the communities. One of our youth members has decided to attend the University of Idaho and major in Natural Resource Management.

 

Chicano Park Recreational Improvements Project

Urban Corps of San Diego County

Chicano Park, San Diego, CA

Urban Corps of San Diego County has partnered with the City of San Diego to implement a $1.08 million park improvement project at the celebrated Chicano Park, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. This San Diego County regional park is best known as an outdoor mural museum documenting Chicano history in colorful imagery. The project, made possible by a grant from the California Department of Housing and Community Development, charges Urban Corps with community outreach, planning, design and build-out of the project. At least 20 Corpsmembers will gain valuable public outreach, construction, and landscaping job skills through the project while studying at Urban Corps Charter School to obtain their high school diplomas. The project will result in important safety improvements, recreational opportunities, and a more vibrant public park while helping disadvantaged young adults in the Urban Corps program succeed in San Diego’s 21st century workforce. Chicano Park was developed after a month-long protest in 1970 by Chicano activists, when plans for the park were nearly set aside to make way for a California Highway Patrol station. The three-acre park is located in the historically underserved Barrio Logan community of San Diego and is widely recognized for its significance as a cultural and recreational resource.

 

 

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