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AmeriCorps crews join BLM to reduce fire risk

Trimming the chances of devastation
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Eleven young Americans from across the United States are working to restore habitat and reduce fire danger in the Sierra foothills. Members of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) are currently working with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to reduce fuels in a number of areas, including the Gold Run area, Cameron Park, Davis Mill just outside of Nevada City, and Skunk Hollow by Placerville. The fuel reduction work that is being done with the BLM includes cutting fire breaks and creating defensible space between houses and communities, chipping brush and trail work. Corps members have also been burning piles created in previous fuels reduction projects. In the Gold Run area, crews cleared brush away from the Indiana Ravine Cabin in the North Fork of the American River Canyon. Archaeologists believe the cabin was built and occupied by a miner during the Depression. The cabin has been vandalized and the work by the AmeriCorps crew reduces fire danger to it. “This is a great opportunity for BLM to get projects completed we couldn’t carry out with our limited staff,” said Bill Haigh, BLM Mother Lode Field Office manager. The work has given AmeriCorps members an opportunity to refine their skills with chainsaws and learn more about nature. “Working with the BLM has been an incredible educational opportunity. Being able to work with a botanist and learn about rare and protected plants and their role in nature has been a real pleasure, ” said Corps Member Leigh Hackney. Another crew of AmeriCorps workers will be arriving in Colfax in May to spend several weeks doing renovations and painting of the Sierra Vista Community Center, said Sierra Vista board member Connie Heilaman. AmeriCorps is a network of national service programs created to improve the environment, enhance education, increase public safety and assist with disaster relief and other unmet human needs. The Pacific Region campus, located in Sacramento, serves Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington, Wyoming and the territories of Guam and Samoa, as well as the Gulf Coast Region. Other campuses are located in Perry Point, MD., Denver, Colo., Vinton, Iowa and Vicksburg, Miss. Crewmembers, who are between 18 and 24, must complete at least 1,700 hours of community service during the 10-month program. In exchange for their service, they receive $5,350 to help pay for college or to pay school loans. AmeriCorps is administered by the corporation for National Civilian and Community Service. For information about applying to an AmeriCorps program, call 1-800-942-2677 (1-800-94-ACORP) or visit AmeriCorps.gov. In California, the BLM manages 15.2 million acres of public lands — nearly 15 percent of the state’s land area — and 1.6 million acres in northwestern Nevada. The bureau also administers 47 million acres of subsurface mineral estate underlying federal surface land, 2.5 million acres underlying privately owned land, and 592,000 acres of Native American tribal land where BLM has trust responsibility for mineral operations. ~ Staff report