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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

SAN FRANCISCO BAY NWRC: Youth Conservation Corps Helps Bay Area Refuges Save Habitat, Wildlife

Region 8, August 30, 2012
YCC crew members (left to right) Angel Maldonado, Dario Oseguera, Alexis Guzman, Imelda Rodriguez, and Brandon Hernandez work with volunteer June Smith transplanting native plants at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR
YCC crew members (left to right) Angel Maldonado, Dario Oseguera, Alexis Guzman, Imelda Rodriguez, and Brandon Hernandez work with volunteer June Smith transplanting native plants at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay NWR - Photo Credit: n/a

By Doug Cordell

For the third straight year, the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge Complex hosted a paid work crew of high school students as part of the national Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), a program started in 1970 to introduce young people to careers in natural resource management.

This year’s crew consisted of eight students from Menlo Park and the historically underserved community of East Palo Alto, Calif. For eight weeks, from June through August, the crew members worked on a number of challenging projects at several of the complex’s refuges. Notable among their efforts were: the collection of seeds for propagation in the native plant nursery at the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge (NWR); weed management to increase habitat for three endangered species at Antioch Dunes NWR; the gathering and removal of non-native plants from Marin Islands NWR; and the removal of barbed wire fence fragmenting the habitat at Skaggs Island on the San Pablo Bay NWR. In addition, the crew helped maintain resources and facilities on the complex’s refuges—in one case, installing mile markers along the Newark Slough Trail on the Don Edwards NWR.

Through it all, the crew engaged in scheduled discussions of their ongoing work and kept journals of their activities, describing lessons learned and suggestions for improvements in the program for future years. They also measured the potential ecological benefits of their various tasks for wildlife and habitats.

It wasn’t all work, though. Along the way, there were opportunities for fun and learning, particularly on “environmental education” days—when, for instance, the crew went on a six-mile hike along their local watershed. Another day featured a trip to the California Academy of Sciences, where, given their experiences over the summer, they were especially able to relate to the environmentally-oriented exhibits.

At the end of the eight weeks, the YCC crew gave final presentations about their work for family members and refuge complex staff, illustrating the conservation aspects of their projects with interpretive posters and speeches. All agreed that the YCC summer of 2012 was a profitable one—for youth, wildlife and habitats alike.

Contact Info: Doug Cordell, 510-774-4080, doug_cordell@fws.gov