California Conservation Corps vs. Tomahawk

Devin was accepted to the California Conservation Corps for the Backcountry Trails Program. This means living in a tent from April 18 through the end of September, in the wilderness, no showers, no electronics, no communications, no visitors and no alcohol or drugs, spending all day building and maintaining trails. Backbreaking, hard labor. Check out the program here and make sure you look at some of the pictures of the crews here. Start in April, when they are still fresh and clean, and work your way through the months. These pictures are from last year’s crews. Devin will be in the Stanislaus Crew.

The kids get a stipend of $1300 a month, $300 of which is deducted for food and supplies. It is obviously a labor of love and utter dedication.

The competition was fierce. Only 80 participants were selected from over 600 applicants. Devin, a veteran of two hikes of the John Muir trail (220 miles, peaking out at 14,500 feet), a B.S degree in geography and a Wilderness First Aid certificate (4 day program),  made the cut.

Here is the rub: Even though the kids are selected and ready to go, the Corps cannot hire them yet since California has a hiring freeze in place and the final go is not going to be given until April 8th. The participants have to wait giving notice where they live, moving out, putting things in storage, buying gear, until 10 days before they report. Here is an excerpt of the email:

We are excited about your participation in our upcoming Back Country Trails program and look forward to having you as part of one of our 2011 crews.  That said, we want to be completely forthcoming with you and to remind you that because of the well-publicized financial and budget issues facing the State of California there remains a possibility the Back Country Trails program for 2011 might not go forward as planned.

We will know the outcome of all the decisions regarding the Back Country Trails program by no later than April 8, 2011, and believe we could know the necessary details to confirm all arrangements before April 8th. (When we know the outcome we will communicate it to you immediately.)

This is very sad. It came about when former Governor Schwarzenegger proposed to eliminate all state funding for the California Conservation Corps, saving the State $17 million. The entire trails program only costs about $2 million a year.

You can establish the values of a country by observing what it spends its money on.

The United States, together with the United Kingdom, just last week launched at least 161 Tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya in an effort to destroy Qaddafi’s ability to squash the rebellion. One Tomahawk missile, made by Raytheon, costs $1.41 million.

Two missiles would pay for the entire annual budget of the trails program, 80 hardworking kids doing a valuable service to the country and nature. Twelve missiles would pay for the entire California Conservation Corp budget for a year.

161 missiles cost  the nation $227 million (almost a quarter billion dollars), literally blown up in a day or two in a country in Northern Africa. What good could have been done with $227 million?

Every nature and conservation program in the entire country could have been funded for an entire year.

Mr. Obama: You have just shown me and our entire country where our values lie.

Apparently not with our children, our nature, our parks, our dedicated youth and good, productive and hard work.

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