Baseline Conservation Camp

Gov. Gavin Newsom has slated Baseline Conservation Camp in Jamestown for closure at the end of the year.

Baseline Conservation Camp in Jamestown, a minimum-security facility that trains inmates as emergency and firefighting responders, is among eight camps in California which will be closed by the end of the year.

Dana Simas, Press Secretary for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, said the closure of the sites would allow for the consolidation of resources and staff into 35 other camps statewide, which would remain open. 

The closure is a part of Gov. Gavin Newsom's 2020-21 budget, which calls for the camps to be closed and depopulated by December 2020. 

Baseline Conservation Camp was established in 1965 and originally was based on the grounds of Sierra Conservation Center, a CDCR prison in Jamestown. It was moved six miles east of SCC in 1990.

Baseline Conservation Camp has an inmate capacity of 120 and currently has 56 inmates, according to the CDCR website. Its community service projects include state responsibility area fire prevention fee projects. 

CDCR is responsible for the inmates, while Cal Fire maintains the camps and supervises the work of inmate fire crews. 

Inmates must volunteer for the programs. There are approximately 1,800 inmates working at fire camps with 1,200 as fireline qualified inmates, the CDCR website said. 

The inmates receive two days off their sentence for every day they serve as a firefighter. Inmate firefighter programs nationwide have been criticized because of the risks to inmates who are not compensated at a normal wage. 

Sierra Conservation Center spokesman Ricardo Jauregui referred questions to the CDCR Office of Public Employee Communications. 

The CDCR said the 69 staff members across the eight camps would be absorbed into vacant positions at other facilities or camps. A total of 362 camp inmates, which includes 239 inmate firefighters, will be transferred to other camps. 

The CDCR said there were 3,710 inmates housed at the camps compared to 1,780 today. 

There are four camps in the north and four camps in the south being depopulated. They are Chamberlain Creek Conservation Camp in Fort Bragg, Devil's Garden Conservation Camp in Alturas, High Rock Conservation Camp in Weott and Valley View Conservation Camp in Elk Creek (north) and McCain Conservation Camo in Boulevard, Pilot Rock Conservation Camp in Crestline, Rainbow Conservation Camp in Fallbrook and Baseline Conservation Camp in Jamestown (south). 

Contact Giuseppe Ricapito at gricapito@unondemocrat.net or (209) 588-4526.

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