Story By Bill Bleyer, Photo by SCA
Nearly 70 young people are restoring Long Island state parks as part of a new job-training program.
They are participants in the State Parks Conservation Corps. Six crews on the Island are tackling projects such as removing invasive plants at Connetquot River State Park Preserve; painting fences at Cold Spring Harbor State Park; restoring guardrails at Valley Stream State Park; clearing trails at Hempstead Lake State Park; and repairing stone work at Caumsett State Historic Park.
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation set up the program for 200 people statewide after the state Department of Labor provided $3.35 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The goal of the program is to create permanent employment for qualified youths ages 16 to 24.
The crews were deployed July 15 and are working through Sept. 30. at 25 parks and historic sites across the state. After Sept. 30, half of the trainees will continue for another 16 weeks, receiving training in trades such as carpentry, plumbing, masonry and electrical work. Then they will be eligible for regular state parks jobs when they become available.
"New York State Parks has a long tradition of hosting young workers who sharpen their skills and talents" going back to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Depression, Parks Commissioner Carol Ash said in a statement. "The State Parks Conservation Corps will build on this proud tradition, training young workers in emerging 'green collar' jobs, helping renew our economy, and making park improvements that our patrons will surely enjoy."
Gov. David A. Paterson added that "it's critical that we provide the young people being hit hardest by the economic downturn with a path to a better future."
The crews of eight to 12 members are being directed by the Student Conservation Association, a national organization that operates youth and green-collar training programs. The association was already operating a project with state parks in the Hudson Valley.
Copyright 2009 Newsday