The Corps Network Applauds House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands for Holding Hearing on 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Act and Public Lands Service Corps (PLSC) Act

Testimony and comments provided by Rep. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) as well as Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network and Kevin Heiner, Four Corners Regional Director for Southwest Conservation Corps.

The Corps Network Applauds Progress on National Park Service Centennial Act in U.S. House of Representatives

Legislation would ammend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993, expand opportunities for Corps
 

WASHINGTON, DC – The Corps Network applauds last week’s progress in the United States House of Representatives on the National Park Service (NPS) Centennial Act (H.R. 4680). The legislation passed the House Committee on Natural Resources and now moves to the full House of Representatives for consideration. The bill contains two provisions that would amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 for the benefit of Corps.

The Corps Network Applauds Progress Towards Passage of National Park Service Centennial Legislation

Recently released draft legislation contains amendments that would benefit Public Lands Corps

 

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.

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.

Civilian Conservation Corps and Modern Youth Corps Honored by Congressional Resolution

Senate Holds Hearing on Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Public Lands Subcommittee held a hearing on the Public Lands Service Corps of Act of 2013.  Subcommittee Chairman Manchin (WV) presided over the legislative hearing on 20 public lands bills.

Senators Reid and Baucus each testified in support of public land bills specific to Nevada and Montana. The administration provided two witnesses for the hearing; Jim Pena, Associate Deputy Chief, National Forrest System, USFS, and Jamie Connell, Acting Deputy Director, Bureau of Land Management, DOI. The administration’s testimony included strong support S. 360 which they explained “will help fulfill their commitment to build a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC).” The Public Lands Service Coalition Director of Government Relations, Joe Gersen, submitted written testimony in support of the legislation. The legislation will next move to be marked up by the committee and the Public Lands Service Coalition expects that to happen in late May.  

There is still time for you to reach out to your Senators and Representative and ask them to support the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013. The Sierra Club, a key ally and member of the Public Lands Service Coalition, has setup a fast way to send your Members of Congress an email showing support for the Public Lands Service Corps Act. This tool is a great way for your board members, alums, and friends of your organization to express their support of the Public Lands Service Corps Act.  It only take a few minutes to send a message in three easy steps, click "take action" below to get started. Please share with your networks.  Please take action today!

Sierra Club Currents: News and Action Center

Take Action: Employ Youth to Protect Our Natural HeritageTake Action: Employ Youth to Protect Our Natural Heritage

Our public lands are facing a backlog of $25 billion worth of essential maintenance projects. At the same time, the youth unemployment rate hovers at 13 percent. The Public Lands Service Corps Act would authorize the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, and Interior to administer conservation corps activities on our public lands.

Take Action
Tell Congress to put young Americans to work protecting and restoring our public lands. Pass the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013.


 

Sally Jewell Confirmed by Senate as Secretary of the Interior

Yesterday the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Sally Jewell as Secretary of the Interior. With a vote tally of 87 to 11, Jewell was easily confirmed (more at The Washington Post).

As we wrote at the time of Jewell’s nomination, “Sally Jewell has been a vocal advocate of Service and Conservation Corps. In 2009, Ms. Jewell testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources in support of the Public Lands Service Corps Act. Sitting on a panel with two former Corpsmembers she said, ‘The young people represented up here and the organizations they represent…  the amount of work that they do is nothing short of amazing.’ Of the Public Lands Service Corps Act, she said, ‘We have a dearth of diversity on our public lands, our public lands are not represented by the people who represent this country, and we have parks, public lands and open spaces that are desperately in need of help, and so this bill represents a trifecta of opportunity to solve this.’”

“We congratulate incoming Secretary Jewell on her appointment, and look forward to working with her and agency staff on a range of projects relevant to youth corps, including the continuing effort to build a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, getting young people and kids outside at a greater frequency, and improving access to our nation’s renowned public lands,” said Mary Ellen Ardouny, President and CEO of The Corps Network.

Jewell is only the 2nd woman to head the Department of the Interior (although Lynn Scarlet, led the agency briefly as an “acting” Secretary). Gail Norton was the first woman to serve in this cabinet-level position from 2001 – 2006. For additional information about Sally Jewell’s background, we recommend this Washington Post profile.

Public Lands Service Corps Act Introduced in U.S. Senate

From the Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

Senators Launch Effort to Employ Youth Restoring Public Lands

Friday, February 15, 2013

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich today reintroduced legislation to expand job training and educational opportunities for youth, while helping repair and restore the country's public lands. 

The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013 improves on the existing Public Lands Corps by expanding the scope of projects to reflect new challenges. It would also add incentives to attract new participants, including Native Americans and veterans, that suffer from disproportionately high rates of unemployment.

“As many of our public land managers retire, we have the opportunity to create a new generation of conservation leaders to protect the lands and natural environment that make New Mexico so spectacular," said Udall. "Passing this legislation would also help combat the unacceptably high unemployment young people face by providing them with job training, education and skills they can utilize long into their careers.”

“Strengthening the Public Lands Corps program will continue to provide rewarding opportunities for young adults who want to work to preserve our water and public lands, such as our rivers and lakes, national parks and forests, and tribal lands. This bill is also particularly significant for tribal families in New Mexico because it establishes the Indian Youth Service Corps where young adults can work to preserve their tribal lands and strengthen their communities. As a former AmeriCorps volunteer myself, I spent the better part of a year doing construction, education, and fieldwork for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and I know first-hand that these programs are essential to improve the lives of those around us,” said Heinrich.

Currently, several agencies such as the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service work with national nonprofit organizations and more than 100 service corps to hire and train young people to build trails, perform maintenance, and assist with conservation projects. 

An array of local, regional and national organizations support expanding the Public Lands Corps Act, including the National Parks Conservation Association, the Sierra Club, the National Education Association and the Public Lands Service Coalition, which includes the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in New Mexico.

"Senators Udall and Heinrich understand the positive impacts that come from linking community service with environmental stewardship," said Carl Colonius, Executive Director of the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps in Taos, New Mexico. “I thank them for introducing the Public Lands Service Corps Act and inspiring young people in New Mexico and across the country to revitalize communities, preserve and restore the environment, prepare for responsible, productive lives and build civic spirit through service."

Specifically the senators' bill would do the following:

  • Amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 to raise the priority of service corps in the Interior and Agriculture Departments (including such agencies as the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service);
  • Establish an Indian Youth Service Corps so that Indian Tribes can start corps programs to carry out priority projects on Tribal lands, which Udall has worked to include in legislation since 2009;
  • Authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the Department of Commerce to participate in the program, which would allow Corps members to work on restoring coastal and marine ecosystems;
  • Provides for establishing residential conservation centers to house and train corps participants;
  • Expand the scope of eligible projects to include working with agency professionals on activities including historical, scientific and cultural research, visitor services, and interpretation;
  • Allow agencies to provide noncompetitive hiring status for Corps participants for two years after completing service. Current law allows such status for only 120 days; and
  • Expand the age range for the program is to youth aged 15 to 25, and participants may serve either in crews or as individuals.

The legislation was also introduced by Sen. Udall and retired Sen. Jeff Bingaman during the 112th Congress and it cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The new Senate legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Chris Coons (D-Del.).

Statement on Sally Jewell’s Nomination as Secretary of the Interior

For Immediate Release                                                                                            
February 6, 2013