NEWBERRY COUNTY — The Palmetto Conservation Corps, the only trail-based AmeriCorps service program for young adults in South Carolina, will launch Aug. 1, the Palmetto Conservation Foundation said.
Corps members’ training and service will focus on construction and maintenance of the Palmetto Trail using best practices to conserve natural resources and wildlife habitat. Their training will also include disaster preparedness.
Corps crews will be available during their service term for rapid response, relief, and recovery from floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other disasters.
The Corps is a natural addition to the work of Palmetto Conservation Foundation (PCF), whose mission is environmental conservation, historic preservation, and promotion of active recreation on the Palmetto Trail.
PCF will operate the Corps under the auspices of the S.C. Commission on National and Community Service, which oversees the state’s AmeriCorps program.
PCF’s partners include S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism (especially Croft State Park, Table Rock State Park, and Poinsett State Park), Manchester State Forest, Francis Marion National Forest, Sumter National Forest, and the Glendale Outdoor Leadership School.
Corporate and foundation partners will help fund the training and service work program, and their Trail volunteers will work side-by-side with Corps members, advising and building networks as they work. In addition, the St. Bernard Project will teach Corps members the skills of homebuilding as part of their disaster response, relief, and recovery training.
With approximately 360 miles completed and another 140 planned, the Palmetto Trail is the state’s longest hiking-biking trail and largest trail construction project.
The mountains-to-sea Trail travels across 14 counties — Oconee, Pickens, Greenville, Spartanburg, Union, Laurens, Newberry, Fairfield, Richland, Sumter, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Berkeley and Charleston — and showcases the state’s diverse beauty, fascinating history, and rich cultural heritage.
The parks, forests, and communities that host the Trail will benefit directly from Corps members’ service, as a well-maintained Palmetto Trail invites tourism and contributes to economic development.
Recruitment is underway for year one to train two Corps crews for consecutive service terms of 5.5 months per crew. Training and service will emphasize best practices, safety, teamwork, leadership development, and community involvement.
Program objectives include building and maintaining public trails, preparing for and recovering from disasters, and educating civic leaders of tomorrow to manage the state’s natural resources according to best practices.
The mission of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation is to conserve South Carolina’s natural and cultural resources, preserve historic landmarks, and promote outdoor recreation through trails and greenways.
Founded in 1989, PCF is a statewide nonprofit organization with offices in Columbia and Glendale in Spartanburg County. PCF’s largest and best-known project is building and maintaining the mountains-to-sea Palmetto Trail.
To learn more about PCF, the Palmetto Trail and GOLS, visit www.palmettoconservation.org and Facebook/palmettoconservation, or call 803-771-0870.