Boots on the ground: Environmental service in partnership with Washington Tribes

Partnerships are key to our Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) mission to restore the environment while providing service opportunities to young adults and military veterans. Our many partners include state and federal agencies and non-profit organizations. We also have a longstanding record teaming up with Washington Tribes.
Our partners provide the hands-on environmental projects that help our AmeriCorps members gain valuable field skills while restoring habitat for salmon and other wildlife, and increasing trail access for Washington communities. 
Join us on a tour of some projects WCC has completed with Tribes through the years. 

Increasing trail accessibility for Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe

Six people sit side by side on a wooden puncheon along a forested trail. The photo is taken from below, so members appear higher up..

Our Port Hadlock-based crew poses along the freshly improved trail up to Tamanowas Rock. Photo submitted by Owen French.

In 2019 and 2020, AmeriCorps members serving in Jefferson County supported a trail project for the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe with Jefferson Land Trust. Members improved the trail bed and added switchbacks up to Tamanowas Rock, a site sacred to the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and other Tribes in the region. These improvements will prevent erosion and increase accessibility for Tribal elders. To maintain respect and continued preservation, the Tribe has identified specific, allowable uses for limited public entry to the site.
“Tribal elders haven’t been able to access the rock because the trail was in such poor condition,” said David Brownell, Jamestown S'Kallam Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. “Now you can push a wheelchair up the trail they worked on a week ago. What they did in terms of human impact is really going to be meaningful for the Tribe in the next 10 to 20 years.”
Through the project, members had a chance to gain trail skills and learn about the history of the land. "I’d never heard of Tamanowas Rock. It was really cool getting to go out there and learn about the history, and how culturally important it is to the Tribe," said AmeriCorps member Torin Blaker. "Every piece of it — cultural, geological — was so interesting." 
Jefferson Land Trust and Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe granted AmeriCorps members special access to the site for this trail improvement project.

Testing water quality with Snoqualmie Indian Tribe

Among our 51 field crews, one is dedicated to supporting projects for the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe. While this typically means assisting with habitat restoration projects, in 2021 this crew joined the Tribe’s Environmental and Natural Resources Department to help conduct water quality surveys.
Two people stand near a forested river. One person is pouring stream water from a cup into a small device the other is holding.

AmeriCorps members Antonio Flores

The surveys help ensure water quality complies with Tribal code to protect the health of the Snoqualmie River and its tributaries. Through this project, the Snoqualmie Tribe received assistance and AmeriCorps members gained new skills and exposure to career pathways. Read more in a member-written blog about this project.

Installing large woody debris with Yakama Nation

Oak Creek, a tributary to the Naches River, would be ideal spawning and rearing grounds for young salmon. However, the creek has suffered from wood-deficiency. Our field crews serving in Central and Eastern Washington were ready to help the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation and other partners on this multi-year project when it kicked off in 2015.
The Yakama Nation, along with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, Nature Conservancy, Mid-Columbia Fisheries Enhancement Group, and our AmeriCorps members, added logs, or “stems,” to the creek to help create a more habitable space for salmon migration. Through 2017, our AmeriCorps members strategically placed more than 1,250 stems after removing the trees from overly-dense areas of forest close to the creek. They used hand tools and low-impact methods to minimize damage to surrounding habitat.
Adding large woody debris stems to Oak Creek will help salmon have safe places to find refuge, expand habitat for a diverse ecosystem, and prevent erosion.  

Cleaning up marine debris in traditional Samish Indian Nation territory

For the past eight years, our AmeriCorps members have pitched in to support efforts by the Samish Indian Nation to preserve and protect natural resources in multiple locations across Washington by removing toxic creosote material from sensitive shoreline habitat. 
Two people wearing yellow hard hats walk along a beach covered in wood and debris, surveying for material with creosote.

One of our WCC field crews specializes in marine debris removal. Here, members remove creosote-coated material from Elger Bay on southern Camano Island in May 2021. Photo by Chris Robertson.

Chemicals in creosote, often used as a wood preservative, are toxic to humans and sensitive marine plants and wildlife. In addition to removing creosote-treated wood and other debris washed onto shore, members help survey shoreline habitat for any remaining creosote-treated material. Project locations have included the San Juan Islands as well as Whatcom and Skagit counties. 
Learn more about Samish culture and efforts to protect and restore shorelines on this story map.

Interested in teaming up with us to complete a project? 

WCC accepts project requests through an online application that opens annually in February. During the rest of the year, limited time may be available in our crews' schedules. Learn more on our Partner with the WCC page.
A WCC AmeriCorps member holds a potted native tree while walking across a mulched area near a fence with Mount Si in the background.

WCC AmeriCorps members serve in beautiful places in rain or shine - like this restoration site near Mount Si. Photo submitted by Colleen Slater.

Interested in joining our WCC as an AmeriCorps member?

Our next recruitment season begins in April, when we open applications for three-month positions that begin in June. We also accept applications annually during the summer for our 11-month positions. Visit our member positions page to learn about our application process and more.