Veterans at Grand Canyon National Park gain wildland firefighting skills
GRAND CANYON, Ariz. – A new partnership between the Student Conservation Association (SCA) and the National Park Service helps veterans transition from the military into a civilian world and into federal firefighting jobs. Some of the training is taking place at the Grand Canyon.
Founded in 1957, the SCA, a non-profit organization, began to recruit and build a generation of leaders interested in conservation and a lifelong stewardship of the land.
SCA’s Veteran’s Fire Corp (VFC) is a 90-day training program that partners with the U.S. Forest Service. The VFC provides hands on training for post 911 military veterans in wildland fire mitigation. Projects range from conducting prescribed burns and programs with wildfires to fuel mitigation, the process of thinning trees.
For the first time the VFC and the National Park Service has decided to partner and build relationships for future teams.
Normally after a two-week training camp in Colorado, the VFC stations a team of five members and one project leader in a specific region of the country for the duration of the 90-day program.
Wesley Adams, a former Navy corpsman and the project leader for a VFC team, said this is hopefully only the beginning of a relationship between the VFC and the National Park Service.
“My particular team is the first to actually work with the National Parks,” Adams said. “Our team is called a roving team and it’s unique because we’re establishing relationships with the park service.”
Beginning July 25, Adam’s team will have worked in four national parks and one national forest. Starting in Quinault National Park in northwest Washington and moving on to Roosevelt National Recreation Area, also in Washington, the team spent time in Yosemite National Park before arriving at Grand Canyon National Park. They finish their three-month trip in early November at Prescott National Forest.