The Sonoma County Gazette: Community News Magazine
Sonoma County Gazette
| more

Photo Gallery

Crews Prepare North Bay for El Niño


Crews Prepare North Bay for El Niño

With potentially record-setting rains anticipated for the coming winter, Conservation Corps North Bay crews are implementing stream and flood channel maintenance projects throughout the North Bay to protect homes and businesses from the threat of flooding.

Working under contract to the Sonoma County Water Agency and Marin Department of Public Works Flood Control and Water Conservation District, Conservation Corps North Bay crews remove lower limbs of trees, invasive species and shrubby plants which can impede the flow of water during flood events. Many projects include planting native species to create welcoming habitat for native species such as salmon. 

“We’ve all heard that it’s going to be a wet winter, and in the context of climate change, that can mean some torrential storms,” said Marilee Eckert, CEO of CCNB, “We consider these projects to increase public safety a central part of our work.”

Conservation Corps North Bay crews are made up of young adults with barriers to employment such as having dropped out of high school, involvement in the criminal justice system, or poverty. CCNB hires these young adults to work on public-benefit projects ranging from stream maintenance and fire fuel reduction projects to trail construction, waste reduction, and lawn conversions to reduce water consumption. Corpsmembers gain valuable skills and workplace experience while studying to complete their high school diplomas through CCNB’s charter school.

Conservation Corps North Bay Corpsmembers also serve as 24-hour standby emergency crews if flood control agencies need more hands during severe events. “It’s an essential partnership,” said Eckert. “When it’s really coming down, every hand that can clear debris and drains and pile up sandbags means homes and businesses that don’t flood.” CCNB crews are out in the rainstorms round-the-clock during severe weather events, checking drainage areas and removing downed trees. 

And that experience makes a difference in Corpsmembers’ lives, says Eckert. “I’ve never seen them more fired up about their work than when they are in a position to be heroes and to help out others.”

Mark Green, Development Director Conservation Corps North Bay  
Phone 415-454-4554 ext. 274