Submitted by Alicia Bennett, Public Affairs Officer, U. S. Forest Service Job Corps
As national forests and grasslands implement their prescribed fire plans, the motto “Ready, willing, and able,” is an apt description that describes the support Forest Service Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers (CCC) provide year after year. The CCCs continually raise the bar in the support they provide national forests and grasslands. At the tail end of March 2023, this was evident when Angell, Flatwoods, Harpers Ferry, Great Onyx, and Jacob’s Creek Job Corps Civilian Conservation Centers sent four prescribed fire modules to the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests (GMFL NF).
The Job Corps Fire Program has provided consistent support to GMFL NF’s prescribed fire seasons since 2018. This year, the workforce provided by five CCCs allowed the national forests to burn 13 units within 24 hours on the Green Mountains National Forest and execute all planned acres on the Finger Lakes National Forest. All-in-all, the CCC Rx modules burned 36 units for a total of 750 acres. On top of this crucial assistance, the modules, alongside the Green Mountain National Forest, National Park Service, and Appalachian Trail Conservancy, implemented the Appalachian Trail (AT) Donaldson Rx unit. This was the first ever cooperative prescribed fire on the Appalachian National Scenic Trail in Vermont.
“The Job Corps Fire program is essential to the continued success on the Green Mountain and Finger Lakes. It has provided us with the opportunity to burn on both forests on the same day and the ability to build multiple burn modules to burn multiple units on the same day on one forest,” said GMFL Forest Assistant Fire Management Officer Robert Goulding. “Being able to do this has allowed us to take advantage of short weather windows and maximize the productivity we can have in a short burn season.”
The benefits of a partnership like this does not flow only one way. Working alongside career employees, CCC Firefighter Type 2 (FFT2) students laying fire on the ground gain practical knowledge that cannot be taught in a classroom setting. The networking opportunities these training opportunities offer Job Corps students also cannot be understated. “One of my favorite aspects of going on the fire assignments is the people that I’ve got to meet, it has definitely expanded my social connections,” shared Flatwoods Job Corps student Jordan Rasnick. This was echoed by Angell Job Corps student Andrew Pontoja who shared, “I enjoyed getting to learn from highly qualified fire fighters with a lot of experience.”
When national forests observe what they can accomplish with the support of the CCCs, they always want them back. Because of the amazing work accomplished, the GMLF NF is already laying the building blocks for future collaboration. “Loved having them here and hope that come burning time next year we can have them again,” said Finger Lakes National Forest District Ranger Jodie Vanselow. “Talk is already under way to bring another crew up to do mastication (heavy equipment) work on the forest. It’s cool to see what we can get done with the CCCs.”