NEW HAPMSHIRE – White Mountain National Forest’s Saco Ranger District presented Home Depot (Team Depot) with a Regional Volunteer and Service Award for Citizen Stewardship and Partnerships. Team Depot was recognized for their help renovating Bartlett lodge located within the Bartlett Experimental Forest.
Bartlett Lodge is a historic property built in 1934, sixteen years after establishment of the White Mountain National Forest. The lodge was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps as the administrative headquarters for the Bartlett Experimental Forest, which was established in 1932 as part of the Northeastern Forest Experiment Station (later called the Northeastern Research Station). This was the first agency of its type in this part of the United States. The Civilian Conservation Corps constructed a complex of buildings on the Bartlett property, also the site of a 1923 ranger station and dwelling, developing it into a supply depot that served the seventeen CCC camps on the WMNF.
The purpose of the renovations was to provide housing for active duty soldiers involved with the Forest Service’s internship program with the Department of Defense, titled the Armed Forces Conservation Corps. Members of the armed forces, who are within 180 days of separating from the military, are eligible to participate in the Career Skills Program. This program is designed to assist individuals with their transition to civilian life.
To be a training provider for the program, housing and a structured training plan are required. The program at the WMNF exposes interested active duty military to a variety of land management career areas prior to their separation from active duty service. Upon completion of the program, participating servicemembers are trained and certified in chainsaws, crosscut, wildland fire, wilderness first aid and axes. They are also trained in how to search and apply for federal jobs, resume preparation and interview skills. The program has become incredibly successful and is now running two cohorts per year, summer and fall, with up to six servicemembers per cohort.
The award highlights the success of the new partnership with Home Depot, as stated by District Ranger Jim Innes, “Thanks to all those who turned out to acknowledge this very important partnership. Without Team Depot we would not have been able to get the AFCC program up and running in 2017. Thanks to everyone who helped with the lodge renovation and continues to make the AFCC program successful!”