President and CEO of The Corps Network Testifies on Capitol Hill About Importance of Investing in Addressing Maintenance Backlog on Public Lands and Waters

Mary Ellen Sprenkel speaks before House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee about how, through public-private partnerships, Corps can help resource management agencies complete deferred maintenance and preserve historic sites

Ms. Sprenkel’s remarks begin at approximately the 1:33:00 mark.

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network, testified today before the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies about the need to invest in addressing backlogged maintenance and historic preservation projects on America’s public lands. Ms. Sprenkel requested support for funding streams that allow federal resource management agencies to partner with Service and Conservation Corps on critical facilities maintenance and improvement projects:

With over $19 billion in deferred maintenance on federal lands, we need to harness America’s growing enthusiasm for the great outdoors and engage more people in service and volunteerism on public lands. One obvious strategy is to engage and bring to scale the existing network of Corps to start tackling a variety of deferred maintenance categories. 

Corps have long been cost-effective partners of federal land management agencies and have been working to generate excitement and new ways to engage youth and veterans in outdoor service while helping to accomplish much-needed project work. The time has come to seriously consider Corps as an essential part of any plan to tackle deferred maintenance and usher in future stewards and champions of our national treasures.

There is currently an estimated $19 billion in deferred maintenance projects on America’s federal lands. This includes $462 million in trail projects and $612 million in landscape projects. Every year, thousands of young adults complete important work on national parks and other federal lands through Service and Conservation Corps. The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other resource management agencies utilize cooperative agreements to partner with Corps to remove invasive species, preserve historic structures, and repair and improve recreational trails, footbridges, campgrounds, cabins, interpretative signs and other park infrastructure.

In 2019, Corps partnered with resource managers to restore more than 300 historic structures, build or improve over 13,000 miles of trails, restore over 1.4 million acres of habitat, remove over 19,000 acres of fire fuels and plant more than 1 million trees.

Ms. Sprenkel requested funding increases within the Operation of the National Park System (ONPS) and Construction accounts in FY21, specifically for the Repair and Rehabilitation, Cyclic Maintenance and Line Item Construction accounts. Ms. Sprenkel additionally requested robust funding increases to similar accounts of other land management agencies under the Subcommittee’s jurisdiction.

Ms. Sprenkel’s full testimony before the Subcommittee can viewed here.

A recording of the hearing can be viewed here.

 

 

About The Corps Network

The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides leadership and support to over 130 Corps across the United States. Through advocacy, and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables more than 22,000 Corpsmembers 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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