Washington, D.C. – Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva applauded today’s vote in the House of Representatives on passage of HR 1612, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009. This legislation will help restore the nation’s natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources while training a new generation of public land managers and enthusiasts and promoting the value of public service.
“This is a great day for our public lands and for public service,” said Grijalva. “With the passage of this bill, more of our young people will participate in doing much needed work in of our parks, lakes, forests, and other public lands throughout the country.”
The bill will encourage more agencies to take greater advantage of the Corps participants. It builds on an already successful program established in the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 which has employed thousands of young people to repair and restore our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites, and other public and tribal lands.
The bill contains new authority for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to participate in the program and establishes a coordinating office in that agency. NOAA manages the National Marine Sanctuaries System, and with the passage of the bill will be able to offer Corps members a chance to work in restoring coastal and marine systems along our oceans and the Great Lakes.
Participants will work on a wide variety of projects: protecting and restoring watersheds and forests, assisting scientists in field research, participating in historical research and curatorial work, working on capital improvements including a backlog of maintenance of trails, campgrounds, roads, and buildings.
“Our public lands include more than just the beautiful open spaces of the west; they also include our sea and lake shores and our historical parks, many of which are in cities. Expanding the Corp to include NOAA offers participants new opportunities on our lakeshores and coasts,” Grijalva said.
The bill encourages the agencies to pursue an aggressive outreach program to attract new participants, especially from underrepresented populations, and prepare them for possible careers in those agencies or in conservation fields. Under this legislation, employment and long term career opportunities will be greatly enhanced for rural, small towns, inner city and Native American populations, and they will see expanded economic opportunities for youth from their communities. This expanded public service initiative will introduce people from a wide variety of social, ethnic and cultural backgrounds to our nation’s parks, forests and public lands – creating not only possible future employees, but lifelong enthusiasts.