Veterans working to restore Puget Sound, parks, other areas

mining reclamation
Puget SoundCorps crews (which include military veterans) contracted by DNR are working through the winter months to reclaim several hundred acres of a former surface mine that is now a King County park on Maury Island. Photo: McFadden/DNR

More than a dozen young military veterans are getting valuable job experience and earning education stipends while working on land restoration, trail-building, and other projects for DNR and other state and local agencies. They are employed through the Washington Conservation Corps (WCC) and related work-skills programs that target young people, age 18-to-25 years old.

“I just want to say this has been the best opportunity I could have asked for in the pursuit of my passion for a career in aquatic resource management,” says Dion Jamieson, a member of the Veteran’s Conservation Corps (VCC). Jamieson was hired by DNR to supervise a Puget SoundCorps crew composed of veterans and non-veterans reclaiming a large section of King County’s Maury Island Marine Park that was once a surface mining site.

Jamieson adds: “I have nothing but appreciation and am humbled to have been given a chance as a veteran to bring my unique skill set and background to this position. For veterans to be considered and valued by employers is something I am very thankful for it. It will never go unappreciated.”

The VCC gives veterans opportunities to work in habitat conservation projects. It is administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs, which has hundreds of partners across Washington with similar restoration projects.

VCC and the WCC members work a variety of projects, including several on the state’s west side through the Puget Soundcorps, which was created last year by DNR and Ecology as an extension of the WCC. Administered through Ecology, this new Corps focuses on much-needed outdoor and habitat restoration work in the 12 counties that surround Puget Sound.

A sampling of other projects on the Westside where veterans are supervisors or members of the various types of crews are:

  • Clark County – Working with the City of Vancouver to remove invasive plant species from several area parks.
  • King County – Led by a veteran of the United States Marines with combat experience, a crew composed veterans and non-veterans is restoring park land for the City of Issaquah.
  • Pierce County – Led by a United States Army veteran, a crew is restoring park and open space land for Pierce County Public Works & Utilities.
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