Before arriving to Camp Frazier, OR outside of the town Ukiah, OR for the new adventure 9 other people and I would set out on, I was expecting a huge military deployment type of experience; gone for months with no cell service, no Wi-Fi, very little free time, and arduous work. However, four weeks into this program, I feel like I prepared for the worst, but got the best! Continue Reading…
My expectations before arriving to the Umatilla Vet Crew at the North Fork John Day Ranger District was that it was going to be a great way to meet new friends, gain experience, and get a foot in the door with the Forest Service. My current impressions are that the people and scenery are great. Also, this is a physically demanding job so be sure to get fit before arrival and practice the pack test beforehand. Continue Reading…
My name is Mark Waldo and I’m from Milwaukie, Oregon. I was in the Army for 3 years as a Combat Engineer. This is my first time with the VetsWork GreenCorps, an AmeriCorps program of the Mt. Adams Institute. Through this program we are working with the Umatilla Vet Crew in Ukiah, OR doing fuel reduction and getting the needed training for wildland firefighting. It it sounded like a neat program, and I thought I’d check it out.
This blog shows what we do every day when we work on our fuel reduction projects.
This is me (in the front) and Frank (with the beard) another GreenCorps member about to start our day and cut down some trees. Frank is cutting and I’m swamping, which means I make some nice piles of all the stuff he cuts. We’re trying to get 10-20 feet spacing between the trees. The burn piles are 4 x 4 foot and chest high. We usually run a tank of gas through the chainsaw and then take turns swamping, this way we conserve energy because believe it or not, cutting does get pretty tiring.
This is me wearing all the personal protective equipment (PPE) needed to run a chainsaw. This includes a hard hat, 8-inch high leather boots, long sleeve shirt, eye protection, ear protection, gloves, chaps, and a positive attitude!
These are a few of the trees we slaughtered today. By removing the small trees, the remaining trees have more opportunities to grow and we are able to minimize the fuel if a fire were to pass through this area. All in all, I think it was a pretty successful day. Now we top the saws off with fuel, head back to our crew bunk house, and clean the saws. This is pretty much the rundown of a typical day on the Umatilla Vet Crew.
Coming from a small mountain town of Susanville in Northern California, I’ve always loved the outdoors. Growing up in the Ponderosa forests full of deer and small woodland creatures made me feel like I had a connection with the woods and the nature around me. After a small amount of time in the military, I wound up in the wonderful city of Portland, Oregon, which for me was a big change from the edge of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I love the city and what it has to offer, but I found myself missing the dry air of the eastern side of the western states. After working for the city in the Parks and Recreation Department, a coworker of mine brought me a Craigslist ad for VetsWork GreenCorps, an AmeriCorps program of the Mt. Adams institute.
Thompson Peak in Janesville.
As a veteran’s program I was instantly interested and started my application as soon as I could. After months of phone calls, emails, and applications I finally found out I was accepted. My particular internship was for wildland firefighting. Although I ran into bumps in my road to success, some car problems and money issues, I managed to make my way to the Mt. Adams Institute in Trout Lake, WA for our orientation. This is where I got to meet my group of fellow veterans who will join me in the new adventure. After our initial meet and greet, a few awesome activities, pack test and paperwork, we traveled to Ukiah, OR where we are on our way to be a part of the Umatilla Veterans Crew.
Mt. Adams in Trout Lake, Washington.
Now I am currently learning how to become a wildland firefighter, something I honestly never thought that I would be able to do. Under the supervision of some great leaders, I am working on and becoming certified in chainsaw operation, first aid, cpr and lots of other great things to come. I live in an awesome bunkhouse with some great people who all have helped to serve this country and like myself, strive to become a greater help to not only the community, but to the forest and the land around us. I can’t wait for the rest of my internship to play out, and look forward to all of the great memories to be made. I’m on my way to success.
Mt. Adams Institute and the Umatilla National Forest are excited to announce the new VetsWork Green Corps program, a 20-24 week long wildland firefighter training program for veterans ages 19-35.
VetsWork Green Corps participants will engage in training activities and fuel reduction project work that will prepare them for potential career in wildland firefighting while also critical natural resources management projects on the forest. Participants will have the opportunity to earn a “red card” and other firefighting certifications.
The program is physically rigorous. Participants will have to pass a Work Capacity Fitness Test: walk three miles with a 45 pound back within 45 minutes.
To learn more and/or apply, check out the position description listed under VetsWork GreenCorps. Don’t delay! The program starts June 2, 2014.