Conservation Corps to work in county parks

Anoka County will use a Conservation Corps Minnesota crew to work in its parks next year.

The Anoka County Board, on the recommendation of its Parks and Community Services Committee, approved a purchase of services agreement with the conservation corps, which will run from March 1 through Dec. 31, 2014.

According to Jeff Perry, planning and resource manager in the county parks and recreation department, the conservation corps will assist with natural resources restoration and park maintenance related projects.

The $134,571 contract cost is not coming from county taxpayer dollars, but from the county parks’ annual allocation of state legacy fund grant funds.

In late October, the county board approved grant agreements with the Metropolitan Council, through which the state legacy dollars are funneled, totaling $1.5 million, for several park projects and programs.

The grant money comes from the state sales tax increase that was approved by Minnesota voters in 2008 through the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the state Constitution.

“The Conservation Corps Minnesota provides hands-on environmental stewardship and service-learning opportunities to youth and youth adults while accomplishing conservation, natural resource management and park-related work,” Perry wrote in a report to the county board.

The county hired the Conservation Corps Minnesota to work in its parks in 2011 and 2012, but not in 2013 when the legacy funds were earmarked for parks infrastructure projects.

“We missed them this year because they are such a great resource,” said John VonDeLinde, county division manager for parks and community services and parks and recreation director.

The projects they undertake supplement the work of county employees, he said.

According to VonDeLinde, work done by conservation corps members in county parks has included native prairie management, controlled burns, trail maintenance and building retaining walls.

“The conservation corps has played a very important role in Anoka County parks,” said County Commissioner Jim Kordiak, chairperson of the Parks and Community Services Committee.

“They are an active, young and energetic workforce who have benefited Anoka County.”

The conservation corps comprises a crew of six, including a leader, and provides its own equipment and transportation.

Crew members are college students or graduates in the field of forestry and conservation.

Conservation Corps Minnesota was created in 1981 by the Minnesota Legislature, under the name of the Minnesota Conservation Corps – the name was changed in January 2010.

Its purpose is to offer youth and young adults programs through the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources..

The Friends of the Minnesota Conservation Corps, a 501(c) (3) nonprofit organization, took over operations of the conservation corps in 2003.

Peter Bodley is at
[email protected]