Washington, D.C. — Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva’s bill to help improve our nation’s public lands while encouraging the next generation to engage in public service passed the Committee on Natural Resources today.
The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009 (H.R. 1612) amends the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 to expand the authority of the Interior and Agriculture Departments, to establish service opportunities on public lands; help restore the nation’s natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources and train a new generation about the value of public service.
“This bill builds on a long and proud tradition of conservation service on Federal lands,” Grijalva said. “Today takes a decisive step forward in finishing work that is desperately needed on our national park lands, forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites and Indian country. It will expand the already established program that employs and trains thousands of young people and helps repair and restore our public lands.”
The bill will also modernize the scope of eligible projects to reflect new challenges, such as climate change, habitat restoration, historical and cultural resource protection and scientific data collection.
Though the Public Lands Corps was established in 1993 to address massive backlogs of vital maintenance work, years of inadequate funding have prevented agencies from completing this work. As a result, natural and cultural resources are still neglected and infrastructures continue to crumble.
The bill removes the $12 million authorization ceiling, allowing increased funding for the program.