SCA crew members joined Representative Raul Grijalva of Arizona outside the Capitol on Wednesday, July 22 to lend support to the passage of the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009 (“PLSC”).
Imagine the enormous difference we could make if more young people had greater opportunities to help protect our national parks, forests, and oceans through national service.
This fall, Congress will consider landmark legislation to help do just that. Introduced in the House and Senate, the Public Lands Service Corps (“PLSC”) (H.R. 1612; S. 1442) bill would expand conservation service opportunities, mobilizing thousands of young people to serve on public lands, while training the next generation of conservation leaders. The Student Conservation Association is helping to lead efforts to get this critical piece of legislation signed into law. Join the effort and take action. Please call or email your Member to urge them to vote yes for Public Lands Service Corp (H.R. 1612; S. 1442).
Specifically, the PLSC bill would expand service-learning opportunities, increase the authority of public land agencies to make youth service a priority in helping to restore the Nation's natural, cultural, and historic resources, train a new generation of public land managers, and promote the value of public service. The bill also provides for the creation of a grant program to create an Indian Youth Corps for projects on tribal lands.
In addition, with SCA’s leadership, the PLSC legislation would expand the definition of “public lands” to include coastal waters, oceans, and other connecting waters owned or administered by the US. This change would create more opportunities for youth to work with the National Marine Sanctuary System, coral reefs, and other coastal, estuarine, and marine habitats administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), which is part of the Department of Commerce.
As Dale Penny, the President and CEO of SCA, testified before the Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands hearing on April 2, 2009, the impact of conservation service on our members is profound. Our work shows that exposure to the natural world is important to youth development in every major way - intellectually, emotionally, socially, and physically. It inspires lifelong environmental stewardship, makes kids more likely to be successful at school, and makes kids more likely to choose careers in the natural resource field.
Beyond the impact on youth, conservation service also helps our public land agencies solve an array of challenges, including climate change issues, backlog maintenance projects, and a wave of impending staff retirements by training the next generation of public land managers. Today, our agencies are being asked to do more with less – less funding, less staffing, and less volunteers. If passed and funded, the PLSC legislation would provide much needed new resources to address these issues.
SCA strongly supports the PLSC legislation, and believes that its enactment is critical to helping SCA further its mission. For the past 52 years, SCA has helped connect over 50,000 young people to our natural world through meaningful hands-on service to public lands. We believe that the PLSC legislation will pave the way for more young people to help even more. We urge you to take action.
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