Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Among the bills passed and signed in the waning minutes of the 2009-2010 fiscal year was a bill that reauthorizes the Pennsylvania Conservation Corps (PCC) for another 10-years. Exact details of the appropriations for the corps are still being ironed out but last year the state allocated more than $6.2 million for the program. The PCC is administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. Spokesperson Sarah Cassin says 120 crewmembers and crew leaders will be working on 43 projects in 35 counties this year. Crewmembers are paid $7.25 an hour and Cassin says many will have access to skills training in carpentry, landscaping and masonry. They are also offered “outsource training” that Cassin says can include everything from life skills training and help in obtaining a GED to college credits. Most participants hail from rural areas of the state but the program is open to any Pennsylvanian between the ages of 18 and 25. The Department of Labor & industry says since 1984, the PCC has worked in all 67 counties, completing nearly 1,400 projects in urban, suburban and rural areas using 15,000 participants. That includes the improvement of 107 miles of streams, 7,100 acres of wildlife habitat and 23,000 acres of forest lands; the construction or renovation of 700 picnic areas, 721 cabins and lodges and more than 10,100 miles of trails; the rehabilitation of 387 historical buildings; and the planting of more than one million seedlings and trees. Cassin says that makes the PCC one of the nation's largest statewide conservation corps. Cassin says nearly a third of all corpsmembers land jobs immediately after leaving the PCC.