Clearwater Honor Camp opened its doors in 1968 under the leadership of Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Area Manager, E. C. Gockerell. Timber sales paid for the infrastructure of the roads and bridges constructed to manage the 127,000 acres of common school trust land known as the 127,000 acre Hoh/Clearwater block with the honor camp situated in the middle along with other trust land blocks from Lake Crescent to Lake Quinault. This minimum security honor camp was formed when Clallam Bay Honor Camp established in 1956 was moved to the present site on the Hoh/Clearwater Mainline in 1968,
The DNR foresters were Superintendent Chuck Dederick and Assistant Superintendent Ed Claplanhoo (first Makah to earn a Bachelor’s Degree). The Washington State legislature provided DNR with the funding for the camp buildings and staff while the Department of Corrections (DOC) would provide custody staffing for security and custody of inmates during non-work hours.
DNR land management story begins on November 11, 1889, when Washington became a state. Parcels of land were set aside from the federal government (typically sections 16 and 36 townships) to generate revenue for a variety of trusts such as common schools, universities, agriculture, normal school, state capitol grounds/maintenance, etc. These lands were managed under Washington State Department of Agriculture until Department of Natural Resources was formed in 1957 by the legislature to begin more intense management on trust lands. Over time, parcels were blocked up for ease of management.
Several large blocks of revenue-producing parcels for both state and county trusts are within the camp’s working circle. Forest management activities performed by inmate labor were slash burning, replanting and pre-commercial thinning, after timber sale, road and bridge maintenance, recreation site maintenance, wildland firefighting throughout the state and fish enhancement. Another activity included maintenance of the equipment necessary to perform the described activities. This is consistent with other camps throughout the state.
The camp has been an economic stimulus to the Forks area by ensuring future timber supply, jobs for the timber industry and employment for DNR and DOC.
The 1943 legislature authorized the building of honor camps. Past and present DNR work camps at adult and juvenile facilities: 1951 Cedar Creek, 1956 Larch Mountain, 1956 Monroe, 1956 Clallam Bay, 1959 Mission Creek, 1960 Washougal, 1960 Okanogan, 1966 Naselle, 1968 Clearwater, 1973 Indian Ridge, 1981 Green Hill, 1981 Maple Lane, 1986 Pine Lodge, 1992 Coyote Ridge, 1994 Airway Heights
Over time, Clearwater Honor Camp would expand in size and name changes to Clearwater Correction Center, Clearwater/Olympic Correction Center and currently Olympic Correction Center.
Submitted by Gordon Gibbs and Randy Mesenbrink