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Escondido Creek Conservancy provides jobs through conservation

Waterfall on George Sardina, MD Preserve where restoration work has been ongoing.
Photo was taken this spring by Nathan Serrato.

The Escondido Creek Conservancy (Conservancy) is helping put people back to work through jobs in conservation. As a result of winning numerous highly competitive grants, over the next few months, the Conservancy will be hiring various contractors—from restoration specialists to computer animation designers—to help with conservation projects throughout the Escondido Creek watershed in Northern San Diego County. 

“Conservation jobs can help heal the environment and also help the struggling economy, “Richard Murphy, president of the Conservancy, told The Times-Advocate. “We are pleased to help people get back to work.”

A 501(c)3 nonprofit, the Conservancy has been successful in competing for grant funds set aside for state and federal conservation projects. When shut-downs from the pandemic were first announced, the Conservancy had just been awarded a $552,097 grant from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife that promised more conservation jobs for Escondido. The grant-funded work will help reduce the risk of fire by transforming non-native, flammable landscapes into native habitat.

“Since there’s enough room to maintain social distancing while performing restoration work, we haven’t had to slow down progress, in fact, we are ramping up efforts this year,” said Juan Troncoso, Conservation Associate for the Conservancy.

In 2019, the Conservancy provided $327,000 to support crews from the San Diego Urban Corps, Habitat West, California Tree Services, and the California Conservation Corps, which performed non-native invasive species removal on Conservancy preserves and nearby private properties. Part of that money came from a $380,873 grant from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife that will support the restoration of Reidy Creek through 2021. The Conservancy also hired independent contractors to conduct biological surveys, cultural surveys, and baseline monitoring on Conservancy projects. In 2020, the Conservancy will begin work on a restoration buffer at the Mountain Meadow Preserve, continue restoration work at Reidy Creek, and begin invasive species removal in the Harmony Grove and Elfin Forest areas, all with the support of private companies employing local workers. Additionally, the Conservancy is hiring a computer animation team to help conceptualize an ambitious project to create a “park within a park” in Grape Day Park along Escondido Creek, funded by a grant the Conservancy won from the California Department of Water Resources.

The Conservancy has been able to win competitive grants and turn those wins into real jobs that, in turn, help support other jobs within the local economy. By doing so, the Conservancy has stayed strong in its mission of creating natural, viable ecosystems that support vibrant urban communities.

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