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Mother Lode’s Greater Sierra Forestry Corps Celebrates Inaugural Graduation

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Columbia, CA– The Greater Sierra Forestry Corps, a WIOA Title-1 financially assisted program, announced the graduation of its first class will take place on Thursday, December 14th, at 11 am in the Dogwood Theatre at Columbia College.

The inaugural class underwent a 16-week program, where participants received extensive training in Wildland Fire Fuels Management (6 weeks) and Foundations in Wildland Firefighting (10 weeks). The comprehensive training encompassed classroom instruction, demonstrations, hands-on field applications, and work experience in forest conservation, basic wildland firefighting, survival standards, engine and pump operations, backfiring methods and equipment use, chainsaw operations, map and compass use, air operations, basic hand tool sharpening and use, fire line construction, and more.

Lara McNicol, Faculty at Columbia College Forestry and Natural Resource, highlighted the diverse training the Corps members received. McNicol stated, “Students were trained in fuel reduction in the mix of the conifer forest with attention to species diversity and spacing of trees, meeting re-stocking requirements according to the California Forest Practice Rules as well as how to create fire lines.” She emphasized additional training provided by Wildland Firefighting Instructors Kevin Anderson and Chris Shore on safe fire behavior, communication during an active burn, and practical use of equipment such as a drip torch and backup pump.

Upon successful completion of academic and practical field training related to Integrated Fuels Management and Wildland Fuels Management, participants receive industry-recognized certificates. The program is 56% supported by the Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor as part of the awards totaling $2,500,000, and $1,973,615 or 44% financed from non-federal sources.