Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation funds continued Irene recovery
The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) continues to fund projects related to recovery from Tropical Storm Irene. The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC), in partnership with the White River Partnership, will spend two weeks this summer removing debris from the White River in Sharon, Vermont with the help of a $6,000 grant from DEC’s Watershed Grant Program.
VYCC Crew with a grateful resident, 2011. Below: Corps Member cleaning a basement after Irene.
A VYCC crew will pull trash, debris, and other non-natural objects from the riverbed and banks along the White River and its tributaries. The White River Partnership has completed a large number of volunteer stream clean days, and expects that a complimentary effort by VYCC crews will make significant steps forward in this ongoing work.
This funding allows the VYCC to continue its work to help Vermont recovery from one of the state’s worst natural disasters. When Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont with devastating force last summer, it changed Vermont in profound ways. At the time, the VYCC had several crews working in the Green Mountain National Forest; and the US Forest Service, a VYCC Project Sponsor, closed and evacuated the forest during the storm. VYCC Crews were willing and able to work, but could not access their work sites as planned.
Before the water had even begun to recede, VYCC Crews relocated and were able to offer help in Washington and Chittenden Counties. For example, VYCC crews helped 60 homeowners in Richmond, Montpelier, and Waterbury to remove dumpster upon dumpster of mud and debris. They cleaned houses, cleared downed trees, and restored the Richmond playground and playing fields to their former condition.
According to one Crew Leader, “the crew’s experience made us a powerful source of relief to affected families. In a trying time, this was made clear when a small child ran to tell her parents of our arrival by exclaiming “THE VYCCs (sic) ARE HERE!’” VYCC Crews were proud to make a positive impact in the community. This year, the work continues with projects like the White River Basin clean up. VYCC Corps Members will have the opportunity to gain important job skills while providing a critical service to our community and our watershed.
VYCC Crews are made up of eight young people, mostly aged 16-19, plus two Crew Leaders. These are individuals who, without the VYCC, would likely be working entry level food service or retail jobs this summer. Instead, they are engaged in important community service and conservation projects, are developing important skills and healthy work habits, and are participating in an educational curriculum. Most important, Corps Members are learning to value a hard day’s work and how to work within a diverse team.
The Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) is a statewide, year-round, nonprofit conservation and education organization with a mission to teach individuals to take personal responsibility for all their actions. Since its founding in 1985, the VYCC has served more than 5,500 young people from every county and nearly every town in Vermont. Today, the VYCC is Vermont’s leading environmental and educational organization that provides inspiring and rewarding work opportunities for young people. More information can be found at www.vycc.org