That was the trade-off recently when Urban Corps of San Diego County workers recently spent several days restoring Famosa Slough at 4275-4283 W. Point Loma Blvd.
“We received a $15,000 grant through SDG&E’s Environmental Champions Initiative to restore the slough along with some Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) students from Correia Middle School,” said Lauren Welch, Urban Corps development manager, and grant author. “They put in some new trails, barbed wire, removed invasive plants, cleared brush and provided water-quality improvements: restoration activities.”
A slough is a wetland, usually a swamp or shallow lake, often a backwater to a larger body of water. Famosa Slough is a 37-acre wetland between Ocean Beach and the Sports Arena arena bisected by West Point Loma Boulevard and bordered by Famosa Boulevard on the west.
Famosa Slough is flushed with salt water from the river channel and also collects rainwater from the surrounding neighborhood. Its 12-acre channel portion and the 25-acre southern portion are owned and maintained by the City. Both portions are accessible by the public, and benches are located at view areas.
Urban Corps serves as a bridge to a better life for young adults ages 18-26. The program provides paid job training, support services, and a second chance to earn a high school diploma for participants, while simultaneously offering a variety of professional services to the community, which also helps train and employ corps members.
Corps’ youth gain job skills on environmental, construction, and community projects, whether planting a tree, removing graffiti, working in the San Diego River, improving a park or rehabilitating low-income homes.
“Urban Corps is giving me a chance to help the community and the environment through this project at the Famosa Slough, restoring the wetland and the surrounding area,” said corps member Hernan Partida. “Like today, we installed new posts for the trail around the slough. I am grateful to have this opportunity to learn hard work and give back through the Urban Corps.”
“It has always been a part of our mission to care for the environment and the community around us,” said Kyle Kennedy, Urban Corps’ CEO. “The Famosa Slough is an important wetland in our community and right down the street from our operations (3127 Jefferson St.). We are thrilled to partner with SDG&E, Correia Middle School and Friends of the Famosa Slough to restore the slough through this community project.”
Welch said about 30, eight-member crews from Urban Corps work eight-hour days on community projects from Oceanside to the U.S.-Mexico border. There are presently about 220 San Diego Urban Corps members, who can be easily identified by their uniforms.
“They have button-down olive dark green safety vests and wear hard hats,” Welch noted.
Urban Corps roots go back to Gov. Jerry Brown’s creation of the California Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1976 as a legacy to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps founded in 1933.
Over time, Urban Corps has given thousands of underserved, low-income young adults the opportunity to finish high school while earning a paycheck, while improving themselves and advancing their own communities.
After completing the program, youth are more employable, have the skills and confidence needed to succeed in the workforce, and know the importance of resource preservation and giving back to the community.