The Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) has launched a new conservation partnership with the American Youthworks Texas Conservation Corps to provide Austinites who have been economically impacted by COVID-19 with an opportunity to earn income and conserve an area impacted by the Halloween Floods of 2015.
Project participants will work in the former Onion Creek buyout area that is currently managed by the City’s Parks and Recreation and Watershed Protection Departments. This segment along Onion Creek in the Dove Springs community has a history of devastating floods, which prompted a voluntary City buyout program that began in 1999. The Halloween Flood of 2015 brought torrential downpours and rapidly rising waters, resulting in the deaths of three Travis County residents and damage to 400 buildings across the City.
American Youthworks began training crews in January and will employ residents to maintain open spaces and work in preserves all across the city and within the Onion Creek Area. Participants will be given the opportunity to gain critical skills and experience that will allow them to advance into environmental careers.
Tasks are mostly related to urban forestry management such as tree pruning, brush clearing, and invasive species removal, and also include wildflower seeding, trash pick-up, fence building, trail repair and construction, native revegetation, and habitat restoration.
“The Austin Civilian Conservation Corps, like FDR’s Civilian Conservation Corps, was designed to strengthen our community through jobs, training and good works in a challenging time,” said Council Member Alison Alter, who authored the resolution creating the ACCC. “While over time the corps will work on projects across the city, I am proud that we are starting with the Onion Creek area which has been hit hard by the pandemic and is still recovering from the Halloween floods, and as a parks advocate I am thrilled that the ACCC will help improve our parklands for all to enjoy.”
“I look forward to the City building on the momentum of the ACCC and the new federal support for a Civilian Climate Conservation Corps as a catalyst for positive and lasting change in our communities.”
There are many different types of work available through the ACCC, many of which are related to climate resilience and preparedness, wildfire risk mitigation, parks and landscape maintenance and improvements, litter abatement, urban forest tree care, and green building. A total of $2.8 million has been invested into these projects aimed at making the City of Austin a better place to live.
"American YouthWorks is excited to partner with the City of Austin, in providing living wage jobs and skills training to those economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) builds upon best practices of Conservation Corps’ throughout the country, whose rich lineage of national service traces back to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), established in 1933, which many consider to be the first national service program,” said a spokesperson for YouthWorks.
“This unique partnership will help foster the next generation of professionals in conservation and parks and natural resource management to meet the demands of our changing environment and create more access to outdoor spaces in our community,” the Youthworks spokesperson said.
“Austin Civilian Conservation Corps (ACCC) corrects a long legacy of segregation and exclusion that was present in the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC),” said LaJuan Tucker, Parks and Recreation, Culture and Education Supervisor. “It is our hope that the ACCC will expand more opportunities for community members to have access to natural resource and sustainability careers in Austin and beyond.”
"The partnership between American Youthworks and the Austin Civilian Conservation Corps exemplifies what our community is capable of when we work together. Thanks to Council Member Alter’s initiative to establish the Corps, residents who lost employment due to COVID-19 impacts are serving their community, gaining skills and receiving economic relief. The conservation project led by American Youthworks in District 2 showcases the influence people can have in their own neighborhood when empowered to do so," said Vanessa Fuentes, Councilwoman District 2.
As the ACCC continues to move forward the team will continue to develop new programs and maximize the reach of the ACCC. In addition, ACCC will seek funding and partnership opportunities that align with the recent announcement of the federal Civilian Climate Corps initiative. The Innovation Office is leading a user research initiative to better understand community members’ needs, desires, and barriers related to COVID-driven economic hardships and career goals. This understanding will allow the ACCC to structure desirable work and training programs, and target outreach efforts to the most affected communities.
The ACCC is seeking partnerships with local community organizations and sustainable businesses who are interested in providing employment opportunities and training through the ACCC. “The ACCC is already creating jobs and positive progress in so many areas, and I’m excited to expand to more types of training and opportunities that give equitable access to great careers and increase the resilience, sustainability, and beauty of our city,” said Daniel Culotta, ACCC Program Coordinator and Innovation Office Portfolio Manager. “We welcome any and all groups that are interested in the ACCC to reach out.”
For more information on how to get involved with the ACCC, program applicants and potential community partners are encouraged to explore the ACCC website.