Desert Restoration Corps

The Desert Restoration Corps (DRC) is a partnership between the Student Conservation Association (SCA), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and California Off-Highway Vehicle Commission (CA-OHV) which has produced a decade of monitoring, preserving, and repairing fragile habitat in the Mojave and Colorado Deserts of Southern California.

The first eight months of the DRC are based out of Ridgecrest, CA. Each team will live and work out of remote tent camps for 10-day periods while undertaking projects, allowing members to fully experience the lands being served. While the majority of the season is devoted to mitigating the impacts of Off-Highway Vehicle (OHV) recreation in the desert surrounding Ridgecrest, Teams will take on additional projects elsewhere in California as the heat of the desert summer encroaches on the final two months of the DRC season. Projects typically include habitat restoration, fence/barrier construction, public outreach, trail work/assessment, invasive species management, and resource (i.e. water, wildlife) monitoring.

Members of the Desert Restoration Corps receive or have the option to receive the following trainings or certifications:

  • CPR Certification
  • Wilderness First Responder Certification
  • Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer Course
  • S212 Chainsaw Certification
  • Advanced Off Highway Vehicle training
  • Peer Leadership
  • Restoration Philosophy and Practice
  • Trail Skills

During the 10-month DRC season, members will restore, protect, and monitor thousands of acres of desert wilderness and will complete a number of other conservation projects. The Peer Leadership model will also provide leadership experience for all members.   

Applicants must be between 18-25 years of age and must pass a background check.

The DRC is one of SCA’s most challenging programs. Members should be prepared to live and work as a small community in very remote locations. Environmental conditions can be harsh, and the projects themselves are physically and mentally challenging. However, those able to meet these challenges will receive an incredible experience!

Related Posts & Program Information

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Disclaimer: These journal entries are an exaggerated account of the hardships faced by the DRC.  Contrary to the following passages, we do in fact have fun on hitch (look at the pictures).

Day 1:

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This hitch we all learned the hard way that barbwire is very unforgiving, whether you are crossing over it or just walking near it. It did not matter whether we were sawing or fencing, no one was safe from the barbs. Every day we seemed to find a new rip or a tear growing larger and larger. By the end of our 9 day haul we had given up on trying to gently untangle our clothes, and just began to pull away with gusto. Each new rip was a badge of honor.

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Greetings again from the Forest Moon of Endor, aka the Humboldt Redwoods State Park! The crew’s hitch this week entailed even more hard work, joyful reunions and wildlife fun. The day before hitch, as mentioned in last week’s blog, the crew was invited to Yony’s house for a grill-out and viewing of the FIFA World Cup final match.

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Last month, the WildCorps crew spent two hitches in the Eastern Sierra. We had the opportunity to assist members of the Bureau of Land Management’s Bishop Field Office with a number of projects in varying beautiful locations. Some of our favorite projects and work sites included hiking and camping in the Inyo Mountain Wilderness with Kirsten, our main Bishop contact, working on top of a mountain at the Saline Valley Salt Tram historic site.

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So, after eight, lovely months of working and living in the desert, five of us (Darrin, Tori, Hailee, Rachel, and Kyle) have escaped and sought refuge in the beautiful Stanislaus National Forest. We needed shade. We needed water. We needed signs of life. And, this forest has provided all of those things and more.

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Parents Corner

Your child is about to embark on a life-changing experience, where they will have the opportunity to meet new friends, explore potential careers, gain leadership skills, and accomplish hands-on conservation work that will have a lasting impact on the planet.