Local Conservation Corps Bill Approved by State Legislature

SB 1181 by Senator Hueso would help maximize available resources for emergency response services
August 31, 2018

Sacramento, CA – August 31, 2018 – The California State Legislature yesterday gave its final approval for Senate Bill No. 1181, authored by Senator Ben Hueso (D-San Diego), which would authorize the Office of Emergency Services (CalOES) to enter into an agreement directly with one or more Local Conservation Corps to perform emergency or disaster response services at the discretion of CalOES. The measure received unanimous bicameral support and now awaits action by Governor Jerry Brown.

Over the past few years, California has seen an increase in the need for emergency response services. Given this growing need, it is imperative that California maximizes available resources to be as prepared as possible for the next emergency. By allowing CalOES to directly contract with and utilize a prepared and trained workforce during emergency situations at its discretion, this bill can ensure a timely and effective response to disasters while supporting at-risk youth.

“With the record-breaking wildfires and other natural disasters we’ve experienced across the state recently, our existing emergency response resources are being stretched thin,” said Senator Hueso. “This bill will provide CalOES with additional tools and personnel necessary for future emergency or disaster response efforts.”

Local Conservation Corps are regional organizations that provide career track opportunities for disadvantaged youth who have experienced extreme hardship such as poverty, former incarceration and homelessness. Approximately 50 percent of participants lack a high school diploma. Corps members participate in a structured academic program while learning valuable skills and job training certification in natural resources and conservation work such as fire fuel load reduction, watershed restoration and disaster relief.

The Urban Corps of San Diego County, for instance, worked on natural disaster preparedness projects and best management practices after the Laguna Hills fires, the Witch Creek Fires and the 2007 San Diego wild fires. To help their community prepare, Corps members installed straw bales and straw wattles to contain erosion and sediment run off, and control burns. They also filled and distributed sand bags for residents of San Diego County in preparation for potential floods. Throughout the state, Corps members have engaged in community response efforts including setting up shelters for evacuated victims, transporting emergency supplies, and serving food to displaced victims.