For many years, the Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Larch Corrections Center has maintained a good relationship with Oregon Department of Forestry’s South Fork Forestry Camp – and for good reason.
Larch camp, originally Larch Mountain Honor Camp, was built using inmate labor and opened for business in 1956. Originally, Larch crews were there to fall snags and rehabilitate lands burned during a series of devastating wildfires in the Yacolt Burn State Forest. Oregon also experienced similar devastating fires in the 1930s and 40s known as the Tillamook Burn. South Fork Forestry Camp is located in the Tillamook State Forest.
Both camps have a lot in common and use inmate labor statewide for numerous projects. They are learning from each other better management and training techniques for low-risk offenders.
Camp managers meet to share information on inmate crew management, wildland firefighting, training, equipment, and other topics. Both organizations have committed to continue improving the relationship between Washington and Oregon. Two major benefits are that they are finding ways to save money and improving safety while working in high-risk environments.
Recently, the Oregon group toured Larch, and the equipment shop manager briefed them on DNR’s fabrication, heavy equipment, vehicle, and small motor repair shops.
The programs in these camps protect and manage resources to meet current demands without sacrificing the needs of future generations and natural systems. Larch camp provides forestry crews that perform thousands of hours of work each year for local, county, non-profit, and state agencies including firefighting and recreation facility maintenance work for DNR.
Working jointly with the Department of Corrections and Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration, DNR has a trained offender workforce for forestry-related public projects, as well as wildland firefighting around the state. This workforce saves taxpayer dollars while teaching positive work habits to minimum custody level felons. The program helps avoid inmate idleness while providing cost-effective work on state and other public lands. The crews make possible many projects that would not otherwise have been affordable, such as environmental restoration and cleaning up illegal dumpsites.
Learn more about work accomplished by DNR-managed correctional camp crews.
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