Press release from The Corps Network.
21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act Passes in U.S. House and Senate, to be Signed into Law
Legislation will help grow Service and Conservation Corps movement by expanding the Public Lands Corps authority to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), establishing an Indian Youth Service Corps initiative, and improving coordination between Corps and agencies under Public Lands Corps Authority
(WASHINGTON, DC) – The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act, or 21CSC Act, passed in the U.S. House of Representatives on February 26 as part of the Natural Resources Management Act (S.47), a broad public lands package of more than 100 bills. The identical bill previously passed in the U.S. Senate on February 12 and is now expected to be signed into law by President Donald Trump. The 21CSC Act assists the Service and Conservation Corps movement by allowing federal land and water management agencies to create formal, more flexible partnerships with Corps; ensuring better tracking of data and accomplishments; and increasing enrollment in Corps among Native American youth and veterans.
Under the 21CSC Act, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) will join the Departments of Interior and Agriculture as part of the Public Lands Corps (PLC) Authority, giving NOAA and the Secretary of Commerce increased flexibility in partnering with qualified Corps to complete maintenance and improvement projects.
Among other provisions, the 21CSC Act also establishes an “Indian Youth Service Corps.” This will allow federal resource management agencies to enter into cooperative agreements with tribes or qualified Corps for the administration of Corps programs that primarily engage Native American young people.
Other key provisions of the legislation include a requirement that the resource management agencies under the PLC Authority each designate a coordinator to facilitate partnerships with qualified Corps; as well as a requirement that the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) report to Congress every two years with important data on Corps. This includes enrollment numbers and information about the types of service performed by Corpsmembers. Collecting this information will help demonstrate the impact and value of Corps.
“Service and Conservation Corps offer solutions. By engaging young people and veterans in service to our country, Corps improve our public lands and communities,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “With the 21CSC Act now signed into law, we are excited about the possible opportunities to expand this movement and grateful to the champions in Congress who helped advance this bill. Thank you to Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski and to the original sponsors: the late Sen. John McCain, Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. McSally, and Rep. Moulton.”
Corps are community-based programs that provide young adults and recent veterans the opportunity to serve our country, advance their education and obtain in-demand skills. Serving in crews or individual positions, Corpsmembers complete meaningful terms of service. Projects include addressing backlogged maintenance on public lands, various conservation and infrastructure concerns, wildfires and natural disasters, outdoor recreation access, and a range of other issues. During their service, Corps participants gain hands-on work experience and prepare for careers in the growing recreation, natural resource, and restoration economies.
The 21CSC is a national initiative to expand Corps to annually engage more young adults and veterans in outdoor work and national service, including service opportunities supported by AmeriCorps. The backbone of the 21CSC is a membership of more than 230 local and regional 21CSC organizations (Corps) across the country that collectively enroll more than 25,000 young people and veterans every year.
Through public-private partnerships between 21CSC organizations, resource management agencies, and the private sector, the 21CSC builds rural and urban economies by engaging young adults and veterans in service projects that increase access to public lands and enhance the natural resource infrastructure that supports our country’s $887 billion outdoor economy.
Corps have been authorized to partner with federal land management agencies through the PLC Authority, which was passed as part of the National and Community Trust Act of 1993. The 21CSC Act updates this authority to recognize the need for a new 21st Century Conservation Service Corps to address modern conservation, recreation, forestry, and infrastructure needs.
The bipartisan 21CSC Act was introduced in the United States Senate (S.1403) and House of Representatives (H.R.2987) on June 21, 2017. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain, Michael Bennet, Lamar Alexander and Tom Udall. It was introduced in the House by Reps. Martha McSally, Seth Moulton, Scott Tipton, and Raúl Grijalva. Additional co-sponsors joined in both the House and Senate. An earlier version of the 21CSC Act was introduced in the Senate in August 2015 (S.1993) by Sens. McCain and Bennet, and in the House in April 2016 (H.R.5114) by Reps. McSally and Moulton.
Click here to read the full press release from The Corps Network.