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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

CAL FIRE Inmate Crews

Article released in The Inyo Register Newspaper on December 1, 2013 covering the CAL FIRE Inmate Crews and how the program can benefit local communities. 

CAL FIRE inmate crews:
Inyo’s behind-the-scenes helpers

An Owens Valley Conservation Camp Crew lines up for a training exercise outside of Bishop this past spring. Over this past year this crew and four others stationed at the camp spent about 1,832 “crew days” training and 16,088 man hours working in local communities. Photo by Mike Gervais
At Owens Valley’s Conservation Camp, more than 100 non-violent state inmates live and train as firefighters each year. But what many don’t know, is how those inmates help enhance local communities while they’re here.
In addition to fighting wildfires across the state, the five crews from the Owens Valley Conservation Camp handle vegetation management work, general clean-up, construction projects and repairs at a number of locations throughout the county, including at local schools, the Tri-County Fairgrounds and county-operated campgrounds and parks.
According to Battalion Chief Ron Janssen, since January of this year, the conservation crews provided 16,088 man hours of community service in addition to the 6,300 man hours the crews served fighting wildfires this year.
“We do a lot of projects with Inyo County Parks and Recreation, we do a lot with almost all the schools, Laws Railroad Museum, Department of Fish and Wildlife hatcheries, the airports, we do all the landfills, walking the fence line picking up trash there, and we do a lot of projects that are our own, on our station and grounds,” Jenssen said.
Much of the work the conservation crews do is state-mandated care of state grounds and facilities, like the Tri-County Fairgrounds in Bishop. But other entities, like the U.S. Forest Service, California DFW and Inyo County have the option of hiring the conservation camp crews to handle part of the labor load.