Nearly 70 young people are restoring Long Island state parks as part of a new job-training program.
The participants in the State Parks Conservation Corps are tackling such projects as removing invasive plants at the Connetquot River Preserve, painting fences at Cold Spring Harbor park, restoring guardrails at Valley Stream park, clearing trails at Hempstead Lake park and repairing stone work at Caumsett State Historic Park.
The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation set up the program for 200 people statewide after the state Department of Labor provided $3.35 million through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The program's goal is to create employment for youths ages 16 to 24.
Six crews were deployed July 15 and are working through Sept. 30 at 25 parks and historic sites across the state. After Sept. 30, half will continue for another 16 weeks, receiving training in trades such as carpentry, plumbing, masonry and electrical work. They would then be eligible for regular state parks jobs as they become available.
"New York State Parks has a long tradition of hosting young workers who sharpen their skills and talents" going back to the Civilian Conservation Corps in the Depression, parks Commissioner Carol Ash said in a statement. "The State Parks Conservation Corps will build on this proud tradition, training young workers in emerging 'green collar' jobs, helping renew our economy, and making park improvements that our patrons will surely enjoy."
The crews of eight to 12 members are directed by the national Student Conservation Association, which operates youth and green-collar training programs.