Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council Votes to Allocate $8 Million to Development of Gulf Coast Conservation Corps Program
BILOXI, MS (December 9, 2015) – During a meeting yesterday morning hosted by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration (RESTORE) Council voted to allocate $8 million to the development and implementation of a Gulf Coast Conservation Corps (GCCC) Program over the next three years.
The purpose of yesterday’s meeting was for the RESTORE Council to vote on how to allocate funds from the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill settlements to projects identified on the Council’s Initial Funded Priorities List, released this past August. The five Gulf states impacted by the 2010 spill reached an $18.7 billion settlement with BP earlier this year. Throughout September, the RESTORE Council solicited public feedback on $139.6 million of proposed projects from the Initial Funded Priorities List, including the GCCC Program.
The projects on the Initial Funded Priorities List are designed to: 1) Restore and conserve habitat; 2) Restore water quality; 3) Replenish and protect living coastal and marine resources; 4) Enhance community resilience, and; 5) Restore and revitalize the Gulf Economy. The GCCC Program will “establish a regional workforce-training program to benefit local communities and support long-term Gulf Coast restoration project implementation.” Local young people trained in conservation techniques through the GCCC Program will carry out priority restoration projects.
“The RESTORE Council’s recent decision is a validation of the value of Service and Conservation Corps,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “Investing in Corps is an investment in the people and the environment of the Gulf Coast states. Developing a local conservation workforce will ensure the health of coastal ecosystems and economies for years to come.”
With the support of the Walton Family Foundation and The Nature Conservancy, The Corps Network has been leading the Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative over the past two years. Through this initiative, we have worked with a number of our members and partners in the Gulf Coast Region to carry out pilot projects that demonstrate the role Service and Conservation Corps can play in coastal restoration and the development of a locally available conservation workforce.
The GCCC Program will be administered by several entities, including the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Department of Commerce (DOC), the Department of the Interior (DOI), and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The GCCC will have two primary components: the first, administered by NOAA and DOC, will focus on training local youth and veterans to meet the specific restoration needs of the five affected Gulf States (Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas); the second component, administered by DOI and BIA, would focus on training local youth from Federally Recognized Tribes within the Gulf to carry out restoration projects. Rather than establishing a new federal Corps program, the above-mentioned agencies will work with existing Corps to implement the GCCC.
The GCCC Program will support the restoration of approximately 500 acres of coastal habitat through projects identified by the RESTORE Council. The Council states that “The initial recruitment target [for the GCCC Program] is to employ approximately 25 crewmembers per State, per year, with a total of approximately 375 crewmembers working a total of 750,000 hours.”
About The Corps Network
The Corps Network provides leadership and support to over 120 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Through advocacy, access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables over 23,000 Corpsmembers, ages 16-25, to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service.
To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.
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