Tehama Fire Center, and More 2018 Backcountry Debriefing

Today on CCC: Hard Corps, we get to see a little more of the vision that I have for the blog and podcast. I intend to explore all aspects of the CCC program, throughout its 40+ year history. I want to cover every center and every program that I can find Corpsmembers from.

Today’s focus will be on the Tehama Fire Center. I spoke with three former Corpsmembers who had been assigned to Tehama about what their time there was like. I also received helpful input from other former Corpsmembers at a couple of CCC alumni Facebook pages, CCC Alumni and California Conservation Corps former Corpsmembers .

Also included in today’s podcast are interviews with two Backcountry corpsmembers at last year’s debriefing at Camp Mather, California. Today we will be hearing from

  • Christian Martinez, from the Trinity crew.  Christian was a CCC Crewleader at Pomona Center before the Backcountry, and completed his second year with the Cs while in the Backcountry. Before the C’s, Christian had worked for the San Gabriel Valley Conservation Corps .
  • Sam Fish, from Yosemite 2. Sam came to the Backcountry through AmeriCorps. He had been an Animated Illustration major at San Jose State University, and tried something different with the Backcountry.

This is how we can get your story told on CCC: Hard Corps. Just talk to me! Because every Corpsmember has a story that deserves to be told.

You can email me at george@ccchardcorps.com ,

You can call me at (530)410-4683,

Or you can send me a Facebook message through CCC: Hard Corps .

Meanwhile…on with the show!

Tehama Fire Center

The California Conservation Corps started in 1976 with a lot of enthusiasm and high ideals, but nobody really knew how long it would be around. It was not even a permanent program in 1976. Funding had to be renewed every year by the California legislature. It was started on a shoestring budget. Equipment was transferred from the Ecology Corps, which the CCC had replaced. The CCC lived in borrowed facilities.  Centers that were residential programs moved into underutilized state buildings that could accommodate the housing, kitchen, workshop, and administrative program needs. Several of them set up on State Hospital grounds in places such as Stockton, Camarillo, and Santa Clara. Some of them set up in unused Army personnel housing on obsolete Nike missile bases, such as Bollinger Canyon (outside of San Ramon) and Oat Mountain (outside of Chatsworth).

The CCC also formed a partnership with the California Department of Forestry, commonly known as CDF (now called CalFire in 2019). Several centers were set up that were known as Fire Centers. The crews from these centers were all Corpsmembers of the CCC, the centers were administered by the CCC, but the crews were led by CDF Captains instead of CCC Conservationist 1s, or crew supervisors. For the most part, these centers moved onto already existing CDF facilities that had already been operating Department of Corrections inmate fire crews. The inmates moved out, and the CCC moved in. Some of the Fire Centers were outside of Magalia (Butte), Angels Camp (Calaveras), Klamath (Del Norte), and Weott (Humboldt).

Today we are talking about the Tehama Fire Center.

Tehama Fire Center
Tehama Fire Center

I had a chance to speak with three former Corpsmembers who were gracious enough to share their CCC memories of Tehama: Karen Brown Wilson, Penelope Johnstone, and John Leonard. Karen, Penelope, and John were all at Tehama around the same time, about the time it closed in 1981.

Tehama Fire Center was located outside of the tiny town of Paynes Creek, about twenty-five miles east of Red Bluff. It was adjacent to the Tehama Wildlife Area, a wide open space in the rolling foothills of Lassen Peak. The area has cool, wet winters, and notoriously hot, dry summers. Summer temperatures can typically top 110°F.

A person could have found their way into the CCC and Tehama Fire Center by all sorts of routes.

Continue reading “Tehama Fire Center, and More 2018 Backcountry Debriefing”

Somewhere Over the Fogbow

A view from the trenches. Or rather, the beaches of Humboldt County. Join C1 John Griffith on a day on the grade with his crew eradicating an exotic invasive grass. Now that’s Hard Corps!

dunesAfter parking our big rig near the entrance to the gun club at Manila, I got out and went around to the back of the large truck to let my crew of ten California Conservation Corps members out. They seemed to move a little slower than usual, so I barked, “Let’s go! Put your gloves on and circle up!” Every morning starts out with a safety circle discussion, and I already knew this morning’s talk would need a motivational element as well.

From the circle of brown-uniformed youth, I looked up over many tall spruce trees to see something that can only be described as a fogbow. It was fog arched perfectly like a rainbow with an iridescent hue, and looked to be about two hundred yards long. I asked the corps members what they thought was at the end of a fogbow?  One young man looks at me cynically…

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Corps Programs: Good for Nature, Good for YOUth!

Today we have a guest post from CCC Crew Supervisor John Griffith. John is a former Corpsmember. Today he runs a CCC crew at the Arcata Satellite of Fortune Center. In this post, John talks about some of the benefits for young people in joining the CCC, and includes a video tutorial about how to join.

how-to-join-a-corps-program2Corps Programs: Good for Nature, Good for YOUth  by John Griffith

There are a lot of reasons to love the 130+ corps programs in the United States. Who doesn’t love the idea of programs that hire youth to build trails on public lands, restore wildlife habitat, and respond to a community’s natural disasters (like wildfires and floods) while helping them get a high school diploma if they need it, and then offering them thousands of dollars in college scholarships after one year of service? What a great investment in our society! It’s a way better alternative than those same young folks just hanging out at mom’s house or on the streets without any employment prospects. The idea of masses of unemployed and bored American youth doesn’t sound good to anybody. It makes us anxiously recall that ominous phrase, “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” There’s already plenty of bad press…

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