The Native American Conservation Corps (NACC) Pilot Program was collaboratively developed in San Diego County in 2021 to address regional wildfire resilience by providing workforce development opportunities to local tribal youth. The program aimed to provide paid on-the job training to prepare participants for forestry and fire professions, to share traditional ecological knowledge, and to help increase cultural burning across the region.
The original collaborative group included the San Diego River Conservancy, the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County, CA State Parks Colorado Desert District, Kumeyaay Diegueño Land Conservancy, and local Native American tribes. Participants received training and certification in chainsaw use, basic wildland fire, and first aid. They also increased their workforce skills, making successful conservation corps crew members ideal candidates for subsequent forestry and fire-related positions. This two-year pilot program also incorporated Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) from Native American elders who shared traditional burning and sustainable land management practices with the participants. During their on-the-job training, the crew conducted fuels reduction work on State Park land, which also increased wildfire and forest resilience in San Diego County.
Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego County (RCDGSDC) utilized granted funds from San Diego River Conservancy through agreement #SDRG-B21-02 and California Natural Resources Agency, RFFC Program agreement #F32291 from 2021 through 2023 to support the pilot program with planning and coordinating logistics, purchasing supplies and equipment, and managing stipends.
The program will continue in the 2023-2024 season with a third cohort of participants! If you are interested in participating or want to learn more, please contact Hayley Eskelsen email@example.com