To the dismay of local officials, the California Conservation Corps announced Tuesday that it has made final an agreement to move the county's only residential CCC base from Escondido to Julian.
Despite the decision, local supporters of the corps, who fear the move will mean decreased services to North County cities, vow to continue their fight to keep the base at its existing Deer Park site.
"Even if they've come down with this decision, the community advisory board is going to continue to elicit the support of our legislators and our community. We're not giving up," said Rosalia Atilano-Harper, executive chair of the local CCC community advisory board, who was informed of the decision by a reporter.
Under the verbal agreement with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the corps will move in mid-May to the La Cima camp near Julian, where 72 young adults will train as firefighters. San Diego County inmates had been providing fire crews in the area until fall of last year.
The move will save the corps $500,000 a year in rent, maintenance costs and staffing, according to Susanne Levitsky, a CCC spokeswoman. The savings will be applied toward the opening of a satellite, non-residential facility in Escondido similar to the one now in San Diego.
Although Levitsky said the savings will allow the CCC to hire 35 more corps members in the area and continue the CCC's conservation services, others contend that the corps services have been contracted out to other state agencies, and that the losers will be the local cities.
"The move will hurt San Diego County. The CCC served all municipalities in the county for different environmental and trail projects, but we will not have that support like we have in the past," said Dan Cannon, Poway parks director and a member of the community advisory board.
Atilano-Harper said a residential base camp in Julian, about an hour and a half from any city, will deprive the CCC residents, generally young adults between the ages of 18 and 23, from educational curriculum that other base camps provide.
"One of the main goals for the CCC is youth development. What are they going to do out there is strictly firefighting. The types of work they could get here locally is much more well-rounded. They would be just too isolated out there," Atilano-Harper said.