Recently, under the headline “Mud damaged trail in January becoming refurbished Montecito walking path this month”, John Palminteri [KEYT.com] reported, “A once mud covered section of Jameson Lane is getting refurbished to make a new neighborhood walkway. Covered in mud and debris in the January Montecito disaster, a newly refurbished trail is about to open.” Though the project was on county land, the site-restoration work, coordinated by KRA and the Santa Barbara Workforce Resource Center, was funded by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant.
Colin Ayers, KRA Site Supervisor, worked with the FEMA representatives and the non-profit Santa Barbara Bucket Brigade, to coordinate essential clean-up activities, viewing the project’s importance from several perspectives. In addition to the first-and-foremost goal of creating a beautiful new multi-purpose pathway for the community, local workers gained job-training opportunities they may not have had without the FEMA funding.
Ayers stated, “Crew members used skills they already had, or developed new skill sets to expand their career options and earn important certifications, such as safety and equipment use. Moreover, in my position, I learned how to manage a whole crew!
Some Santa Barbara County employers had to close their businesses because of the mud-debris flow and the massive “Thomas Fire” that ignited on December 4, 2017, and was not fully contained until January 12, 2018. Consequently, many crew workers had endured limited opportunities for sustainable income since the destructive wildfire and mud-slide disasters.