Senator Max Baucus Volunteers with Montana Conservation Corps

Patrick Cote/Daily Inter Lake

On Thursday last week, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) joined Montana Conservation Corps for some trailbuilding fun in the Flathead National Forest. After being damaged by a fire in 2001, the Corps has been working with the U.S. Forest Service for the past two years to restore and maintain the 15 mile Glacier View Mountain Trail. NBC Montana and ABC Fox Montana both covered the story with videos.

According to ABC Fox, Senator Baucus said "What drives all of us, I think, is beauty, the naturalness of our state, connecting with the land, the water, the air. Not only for ourselves, but for our kids, our grandkids, and that's a powerful force."  

NBC Montana also quoted Montana Conservation Corps Executive Director, Jono McKinney: "Though we do a lot of conservation work our mission is about developing young people. Helping them learn job skills, learn to work together in teams, a lot of leadership and communication development...[On the trail project:] When you've finished the work, what you have created is something that will last. So people really have a sense that the work they're doing really has a purpose, a meaning, and made a difference. And that's very rewarding."

Boiler Plate: 
On Thursday last week, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) joined Montana Conservation Corps for some trailbuilding fun in the Flathead National Forest. After being damaged by in 2001, the Corps has been working with the U.S. Forest Service for the past two years to restore and maintain the 15 mile trail.

California Conservation Corps Crews Sent to Silver Fire and Six Other Fires

More than 300 members of the California Conservation Corps -- including 100 on Riverside County's Silver Fire -- have been dispatched to assist Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Services on fires throughout the state.

On Southern California's Silver Fire near Banning, there are eight CCC crews, providing both firefighting assistance and logistical support at the fire camp.  The corpsmembers are working under the direction of Cal Fire.

The CCC is also assigned to the Aspen Fire (Fresno County); Butler Fire (Humboldt County); Dance Fire (Humboldt County); Falls Fire (Riverside County); Power Fire (Tuolumne County); and the Salmon River Complex (Siskiyou County).  These crews are working under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.

The crews are from 15 different CCC locations: Camarillo, Chico, Fortuna, Fresno, Lake Tahoe, Los Angeles, Pomona, Sacramento, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Stockton,Ukiah, Watsonville and Yreka.

This has been a busy fire season for the CCC, with corpsmembers providing more than 40,000 hours of assistance during July.

Boiler Plate: 
More than 300 members of the California Conservation Corps -- including 100 on Riverside County's Silver Fire -- have been dispatched to assist Cal Fire and the U.S. Forest Services on fires throughout the state.

Corpsmember Health Insurance Plan

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IMPORTANT UPDATES RE. TCN’S HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN
August 1, 2013

The Corps Network’s Health Insurance Plan is designed for AmeriCorps programs with full time members.  Click here for the full Plan Overview.

Update from Chris Rooney at Willis: 

The 2012-2013 policy for The Corps Network Plan has been extended through December 2013.  The current rates and benefits will apply until January 1, 2014.  In the meantime, we are seeking designation for the plan as Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) through HHS for coverage beyond January 1.  We will continue to provide updates as developments occur.

Health care reform has created confusion around coverage for AmeriCorps members and we are aware that at least one insurance plan has communicated its intent to cease providing benefits beyond December 2013.  We’ve been attempting to provide education regarding the issues and available options to state commissions and programs, most recently through webinars hosted by America’s Service Commissions.  We’ve also presented on program director calls to spread the message more directly.  If you are interested in scheduling a similar call or have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me or my colleague Julie Nelson at 1-800-456-1415.

A webinar hosted by America's Service Commissions is available here.

Update from Carol Huls, TCN’s Member Relations Manager:
September 2013

In order to participate in The Corps Network’s Health Insurance Program you need to be a Member of The Corps Network. Our member categories include Service and Conservation Corps, Affiliate members and AmeriCorps Basic members.  

For the Health Insurance only – you would want the AmeriCorps Basic membership level. Here is the current form: AmeriCorps Basic Membership FY14

Once you have sent the membership form to me, contact Wills directly for complete information on the plan (including enrollment materials).  Contact Chris Rooney (chris.rooney@willis.com) or Julie Nelson (Julie.nelson@willis.com).  1-800-456-1415.

NOTE:  If your State Commission is an Affiliate member of The Corps Network, their membership will extend such that the AmeriCorps members in your state may join The Corps Network as an AmeriCorps Basic Member with no membership dues.  

Check Here to see if your State Commission is already a member.

If you are a representative of a State Commission who is not yet an Affiliate member, please contact me (chuls@corpsnetwork.org) for more information.

Boiler Plate: 
The Corps Network’s Health Insurance Plan is designed for AmeriCorps programs with full time members. Click here for the full Plan Overview.

Please join us in welcoming Members who have joined The Corps Network in FY13!

Service and Conservation Corps

Anchorage Park Foundation/Youth Employment in Parks   
Larimer County Conservation Corps            
WisCorps / Wisconsin Conservation Corps  
YouthBuild Lake County                                    
YouthWorks (Santa Fe)               

For a full list of Members by State – click here.  

Affiliate Members – non-profit youth, service and conservation programs

Great Lakes Community Conservation Corps   
Montgomery County Conservation Corps / Latin American Youth Center  
New York-New Jersey Trail Conference  
Repair the World   

Affiliate Members – State Commissions

Office on Volunteerism & Community Service/Virginia DSS    

Affiliate Members – Business Supporters

Green Piranhas /5604 LLC 

For a full list of Affiliates – click here. 
 

Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia Enlists Help from Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps and AmeriCorps NCCC for Boy Scout Jamboree, 2013 Reach the Summit Initiative

West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin takes a moment for a photo with Corpsmembers and staff from Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia and KUPU / Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps.

Click here to see more photos from the event

For one of their most ambitious projects to date, the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia (CCCWV) agreed to lead the 2013 Reaching the Summit Community Service Initiative, which will see the completion of over 350 service projects in southern West Virginia this week. According to the organizers of the initiative, "it's the nation's largest community service project of its kind in U.S. history."  

"The Initiative is remarkable and the most significant project of its kind in our nation's history," said Robert A. Martin, CEO, Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia. "Moving forward, what we accomplish over these five days of service will be a shining example of what can be accomplished when we all work together."

So who's helping out? The Boy Scouts of America are hosting their annual Jamboree in conjunction with the event, with an estimated 40,000 scouts descending upon West Virginia for fun and service. Most of the approved work includes outdoor construction, renovation, painting, landscaping or clean-up efforts. The projects are located at cemeteries, parks, schools, humane societies, historic landmarks, ball fields, and other community gathering places.

Knowing they had their hands full, CCCWV also turned to some of their best friends and partners to help out. On Tuesday, the arrival of KUPU's Hawaii Youth Conservation Corps crew caused quite a splash at the airport, where according to Charleston Gazette reporter Laura Reston, "the teenagers wore yellow leis Tuesday at the gate at Yeager and voiced a Hawaiian chant called an "Oli" to commemorate the entrance to a sacred place..." Noting the strong environmental connection many of the Corpsmembers feel coming from their state, Reston quoted Corpsmember Joshua Bailey-Belista as saying, "If you take care of the land, 'the land will take care of you.'" They also had a chance to meet the Governor of West Virginia before heading out to Pipestem State Park.

Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National & Community Service has also headed to the event to tour sites and volunteer. Numerous crews from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps are also there to help execute and supervise projects.

Mary Ellen Ardouny, President & CEO of The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps will also attend. "This is an amazing event and a large share of the credit should go to Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia which has worked for more than two years to pull this event off seamlessly and by engaging a wide number of partners."

 

Boiler Plate: 
For one of their most ambitious projects to date, the Citizens Conservation Corps of West Virginia (CCCWV) agreed to lead the 2013 Reach the Summit Initiative, which will see the completion of over 350 service projects in southern West Virginia this week. According to the organizers of the initiative, "it's the nation's largest community service project of its kind in U.S. history."

Public Lands Service Corps Act Gets Revised Score From Congressional Budget Office

On June 18th, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended and passed S.360, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.  Following the committee passing the bill, the legislation was sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) to be “scored.”  The CBO “scorekeeping” process includes calculating the budgetary effects of the implementing the legislation and impact on the current and future budget resolutions.

This week, CBO released their cost estimate of the amended S.360, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013. CBO has now found that, “Although S. 360 authorizes a number of new activities under the Public Lands Corps Act, the bill would not increase the amounts authorized to be appropriated under that act. Thus, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would have no impact on the federal budget over the 2014-2018 period. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.”  In previous Congresses, CBO estimated that implementing the legislation would require net additional appropriations of $95 million over the 5 year period.  

The Public Lands Service Coalition agrees with the Congressional Budget Office cost estimate of the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 that implementing the legislation will not bring the need for additional appropriations and will in fact help stretch the land and water management agencies operating budgets.  In fact, research conducted by the National Park Service’s Park Facility Management Division found that using Conservation Corps to complete maintenance and trail projects provided a cost savings of over 50%. 

The legislation will next be scheduled for Senate floor consideration, expected sometime this fall. We look forward to the legislation being scheduled for floor action and signed into law by the President. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-3) and has 32 cosponsors and awaits action by House Committee on Natural Resources. Thank you to all of the Corps that reached out to their Senators on the committee in support of the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.   

Background on the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013

The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 amends the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 and expands the role of the public lands corps program. The Public Land Corps program allows the federal land and water management agencies to partner with conservation and service corps on projects that rehabilitate, restore, and enhance natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational, and scenic resources on public lands across America. An expanded Public Lands Service Corps program will provide more opportunities for thousands of young Americans to gain valuable workforce and career development while assisting our nation’s land and water management agencies to address critical maintenance, restoration, repair and rehabilitation needs in a cost effective manner.

The legislation will:

• Permit NOAA to work with conservation corps on costal and marine habitats,

• Establish department level corps / youth offices at DOI, USFS, NOAA,

• Extends the noncompetitive hiring authority for corps members,

• Allow military veterans up to age 35 to participate in the public lands corps program.

The legislation will allow the public land and water management agencies to engage young adults to meet our nation’s backlogged maintenance needs, address record youth unemployment, and prepare a diverse group of youth to be the next generation of natural resource employees. An expanded Public Lands Service Corps program will provide more opportunities for thousands of young Americans to gain valuable workforce and career development while assisting our nation’s land and water management agencies to address critical maintenance, restoration, repair, and rehabilitation needs.

125 Corpsmembers Working to Mitigate California Fires

From the California Conservation Corps

The California Conservation Corps continues to have crews dispatched to fires in both Northern and Southern California.

In the Lake Tahoe area, four CCC crews (55 corpsmembers) have been assigned to the Kyburz Fire in the Eldorado National Forest. They are working under the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.  The crews are from CCC locations in  Auburn, Fortuna, Redding and South Lake Tahoe.

In Southern California, the six CCC crews dispatched to the Chariot Fire near Julian in San Diego County continue their efforts.  The 75 corpsmembers include three fire crews, from Camarillo and San Diego.  The San Diego crew is composed of military veterans.

There are also three camp crews on the Chariot Fire, providing logistical support to Cal Fire.  Those crews are based in Los Angeles and San Diego.

The CCC has additional crews that may be assigned where needed.

Senator Mark Udall Visits Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

From Rocky Mountain Youth Corps

Last week Senator Mark Udall met with our Regional Conservation Corps crew (ages 16-18 year old crew) at Steamboat Lake State Park.

The crew acknowledged the Senator by reading a letter of appreciation for his support of Conservation Corps programs across the nation. Senator Udall expressed his appreciation for their hard work and said he was envious that they got to live and work outdoors in Colorado this summer!

Bob McCammon, Executive Director of Youth Conservation Corps Retires

Bob with Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National & Community Service, at The Corps Network 2013 National Conference.

After 37 years of serving as the Executive Director of Youth Conservation Corps (Waukegan, Illinois), Bob McCammon has decided he's ready to retire. In Bob's own words, he says that "I plan to reduce my stress and enjoy some of my major loves for family, travel, outdoor recreation and golf in the coming years."

Youth Conservation Corps joined The Corps Network in 1991. The organization has participated in numerous programs and initiatives of The Corps Network, most recently the Postsecondary Success Education Initiative and the AmeriCorps Education Award program. YCC has also been an active YouthBuild program, and Bob has served both on the Board of The Corps Network as our Chair and numerous committees for both YouthBuild and The Corps Network. Bob has received numerous awards over the years and was appointed by the Illinois Governor to Serve Illinois, the Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service in 2007. Bob holds a Bachelor of Behavioral Science from Louis National University and a Masters of Public Administration from Roosevelt University. He also served for ten years in the U.S. Navy and is a Vietnam Veteran.

Ben Richard, YCC's Program Director, has been appointed Interim Executive Director of the organization and will take over when Bob formally departs in mid-August.

Around The Corps Network, we have appreciated Bob's candor and expertise over the years, as well as the many nice Youth Conservation Corps golf shirts and he has brought us that we wear with pride (YCC has hosted a golf charity fundraiser benefiting the program for 27 years). We will miss him and his contributions to the Corps Movement!  

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Passes Public Lands Service Corps Act, Clearing Way for Vote by Full Senate

On Tuesday the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended and passed S.360, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.  An expanded Public Lands Service Corps program will provide more opportunities for thousands of young Americans to gain valuable workforce and career development while assisting our nation’s land and water management agencies to address critical maintenance, restoration, repair and rehabilitation needs in a cost effective manner.

The committee agreed to amend S. 360 to allow military veterans up to the age of 35 to participate in the Public Lands Corps program and inserted the authority of the Secretary to establish a preference for Corps that recruit members local to the state or region.  The amendment also stripped unnecessary language allowing residential centers and temporary housing for Corps in an effort to lower the potential cost of the legislation.  You can find the amendment here.  
 
The legislation will next be “scored” by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and then be scheduled for Senate Floor consideration.  The CBO “scorekeeping” process includes calculating the budgetary effects of the legislation and impact on the budget resolution. The Public Lands Service Coalition estimates that implementing this legislation will not bring the need for additional appropriations and will in fact help stretch the land and water management agencies operating budgets and looks forward to CBO’s scorekeeping. Research conducted by the National Park Service’s Park Facility Management Division found that using Conservation Corps to complete maintenance and trail projects provided a cost savings of over 50%.  
 
The Public Lands Service Coalition commends Chairman Wyden (OR) and Ranking Member Murkowski (AK) for agreeing to a bipartisan amendment and passing this critical legislation.  We look forward to the legislation being scheduled for floor action and signed into law by the President.  Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-3) and has 32 cosponsors and awaits action by House Committee on Natural Resources.   

Thank you to everyone who has reached out to their Senators on the committee in support of the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.    

Additional information about the PLSC Act can be found here.

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