With all Californians impacted by the drought, the question was what role could AmeriCorps play? By leveraging the power of AmeriCorps, CaliforniaVolunteers and the California Conservation Corps created the Tree Mortality Project, also known as the “Save the Sierras” project.
The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection estimates that over the 5-year drought, more than 129 million trees have died. The Save the Sierras project was established to stop the spread of tree mortality and work to repair and restore areas impacted by drought and bark beetle. Beginning in January 2017, 50 AmeriCorps Members, serving on tree mortality and fuel reduction crews, set off to remove thousands of diseased trees.
Utilizing their forest management knowledge, their innovative drive, and their passion for service, these AmeriCorps Members were able to clear areas dominated by small, unhealthy trees, therefore decreasing resource competition and improving the tree’s natural defense against bark beetles – ultimately allowing the ecosystem to flourish.
The Corpsmembers worked a revolving schedule of eight 10-hour work days and then would spend six days focused on educational opportunities, volunteering, and resting. These members, driven by their passion to serve, worked in many different weather conditions, living in tents and working with crews that bonded over grueling labor-intensive days and were committed to get things done.
The success of this program is being recognized on the national level. The Save the Sierras project has been selected as one of The Corps Network’s 2018 Projects of the Year and will be considered for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Project of the Year.