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The Corps Network Applauds Bipartisan Introduction of New 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Act in United States House and Senate
A merger of the previously-introduced Public Lands Service Corps Act and 21CSC Act, the bill would advance the 21CSC’s goal of engaging 100,000 young adults and veterans in Corps through addressing backlogged maintenance and other mission-critical projects on America’s public lands and waters.
WASHINTON, DC – The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, applauds bipartisan introduction of a new 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Act in the United States House of Representatives (H.R.2987) and Senate (S.1403) on June 21, 2017. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Tom Udall (D-NM). It was introduced in the House by Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ).
“In Arizona and across the country, young people are growing increasingly interested in service programs focused on bettering our national parks and public lands,” said Senator McCain. “However, while more people each year are applying for service opportunities, they are being turned away – even though our federal agencies need their help to complete a growing backlog of critical projects. Our legislation would solve this problem by creating more opportunities for young people and returning veterans to serve their community while spending no additional taxpayer dollars.”
“Arizona’s breathtaking scenic scopes are renown throughout the country and the world— but our state also has one of the largest backlogs in park maintenance projects,” said Congresswoman McSally (R-AZ). “This backlog is restricting access for Arizonans and tourists at our parks and public areas. This isn’t a problem that money alone can fix, we need to think innovatively and pragmatically to address this growing problem. My bipartisan bill leverages existing resources in a smarter way to get these projects moving. This would be a win for veterans, youth, local communities, and our national parks.”
The 21CSC is a national initiative to annually engage 100,000 young adults and veterans in outdoor work and national service opportunities – such as those offered through AmeriCorps – that address mission-critical maintenance and improvement projects on America’s public lands and waters. Currently, the more than 200 official 21CSC member organizations across the country annually enroll more than 25,000 participants in up to year-long terms of service, during which participants gain hands-on work experience, in-demand skills, and prepare for careers in the growing recreation, natural resource and restoration economies.
Through public-private partnerships among 21CSC programs, resource management agencies, and the private sector, the 21CSC builds rural and urban economies by engaging young adults and veterans in projects that increase access to public lands and enhance the natural resource infrastructure that supports our country’s $887 billion outdoor economy.
America’s main resource management agencies have a maintenance backlog totaling over $18.6 billion. By partnering with 21CSC programs, these agencies can further leverage their funding to cost-effectively engage Corps in building trails, fighting wildfires, maintaining productive fish and wildlife habitat and generally maintaining parks for public access. Along with completing projects, 21CSC also develops the next generation of outdoor stewards, recreationists, sportsmen and women, and resource managers. While gaining in-demand skills, Corpsmembers build respect and appreciation for our country, hard work, and the outdoors.
The 21CSC Act would allow federal land and water management agencies – like the National Park Service and U.S. Forest Service – to create formal, more flexible partnerships with 21CSC member organizations. It would also enable additional federal agencies to more easily partner with 21CSC organizations to accomplish their goals. Specifically, the 21CSC Act would:
- Expand the number of federal agencies that can work with 21CSC programs. Enlisting Conservation Corps to do priority work has often proven to be more cost-effective for federal agencies.
- Encourage federal agencies to collaborate, and require that they use only existing resources to work with 21CSC programs, meaning there would be no additional cost to tax-payers.
- Establish coordinators at participating agencies to ensure the efficient functioning of the 21CSC.
- Prioritize the engagement of recent veterans, native, and disadvantaged youth in 21CSC programs, and establish a new Indian Youth Corps program.
- Establish standards for data collection and measuring the effectiveness of 21CSC programs.
- Provide two years of non-competitive hiring eligibility with federal agencies for young people and veterans who gain valuable skills through service in 21CSC programs.
- Provide new Internship and Resource Assistant opportunities for Corpsmembers, along with direct hiring authority.
The 21CSC Act was originally introduced in the Senate in August 2015 (S.1993) by Senators McCain and Bennet, and in the House in April 2016 (H.R.5114) by Representatives McSally and Moulton. The Public Lands Service Corps Act (PLSCA) – a similar bill – was most recently introduced in the House in April 2015 (H.R.2167) by Rep. Grijalva and in the Senate (S. 1160) by Sen. Udall. Rep. Grijlava has been a long-standing champion of Corps and the PLSCA. The legislation introduced yesterday is a combination of previously introduced versions of the 21CSC and PLSC Acts. It represents a bipartisan effort among sponsors and cosponsors of both bills to work together for the advancement of Corps as a public-private strategy to meet the needs of America’s resource management agencies and provide work opportunities for young adults and veterans.
“The Corps Network is deeply grateful to Senators McCain, Bennet, and Udall, and Representatives McSally, Moulton, and Grijlava, and all of the cosponsors of this legislation for collaborating to promote the vision of the 21CSC,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network and Chair of the Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps. “As this legislation merges two bills, we want to especially thank Rep. Grijalva for his longstanding support of Corps through promotion of the PLSC Act. The 21CSC is a win-win: our public lands agencies can address the maintenance backlog and meet their missions through cost-effective public-private partnerships; and young adults and returning veterans gain valuable, in-demand skills for the growing outdoor economy through work and national service opportunities. We look forward to working with the congressional offices involved to help see the 21CSC Act passed.”
The 21CSC initiative was launched as a partnership between America’s Corps and a number of federal agencies to promote the idea of a 21st-Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) to provide job training and to maintain and preserve public lands. The 21CSC is supported by the past five Secretaries of Interior (two republicans and three Democrats) and has received investments from private businesses like American Eagle Outfitters, The Coca-Cola Foundation, the REI Foundation, The North Face, the Campion Foundation, Camelbak, the Youth Outdoor Legacy fund, KEEN Utility and others. Current Secretary of Interior Zinke was a co-sponsor of the 21CSC Act when he was in Congress.
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 25,000 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.
About the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is a bipartisan, national initiative to leverage public-private relationships for cost-effective maintenance and improvement of America’s infrastructure, lands and waters. The 21CSC envisions partnerships between resource management agencies and Corps: organizations that engage America’s young adults and veterans in work-based national service projects that restore, conserve and enhance infrastructure and public lands and waters.
The 21CSC is an easy-to-implement solution to America’s aging infrastructure that also develops the next generation of outdoor enthusiasts, recreationists, sportsmen and women, and resource managers. While gaining in-demand skills through their service, Corps participants also build respect and appreciation for our country, hard work, and the outdoors. To learn more about the 21CSC, please visit www.21csc.org.
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