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

Main Characters: Puptent the dog, Rands Crew (Kyle, Rachel, Riley, Natalie and Tyler)

Setting: Rands Mountain Area; RM51-R44

Dates: 3/7-3/16

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It’s Hitch Nine, and it feels more like home in the field than it does anywhere else out here.

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Here in Jawbone we have hot days, windy nights, and bumpy drives. We survive by lathering on sunscreen, putting lots of rocks on our tarps and tents, and using other people’s bodies as cushions when the road gets a little rough. Even with the blazing sun and howling wind we had a very productive, fun hitch. By the end of our second work day we had already restored over 1000m2 (that’s A LOT!).

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           Desert winds beat sand against any exposed skin, into the eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. By the end of the day, red beards have become brown, pale skin looks tanned, and tan skin appears chalky and pale. Meals eaten outdoors are inevitably seasoned with sand and grit. Days go by, and you forget what still air is like. We climbed up and down hills, then back up and back down. We moved earth and rock. The wind picked up speed. It slowed down. It rushed back up and whirled around.

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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.