Secretary Jewell Announces Youth Corps to Help Restore NY/NJ Parks after Sandy

U.S. Department of the Interior
Thursday, May 30, 2013

DOI Sec. Jewell announces National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps; 200 green jobs for local youth

QUEENS, NY — As part of President Obama’s commitment to expand employment opportunities for youth, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today launched the “National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps,” a partnership with the City of New York and the Student Conservation Association (SCA) that will provide approximately 200 jobs for young people in 2013 to participate in Hurricane Sandy recovery and clean-up efforts.

2013 will serve as a pilot year for what is expected to be a multi-year program for youth and young adults from around the region to assist in the response, recovery and mitigation of Hurricane Sandy damage within the national park units and their partner sites in New York City and New Jersey. The Corps will initially focus on Gateway National Recreation Area and adjoining city parklands at Jamaica Bay. Secretary Jewell’s announcement followed a Tuesday visit by President Obama to the New Jersey Shore, where he viewed rebuilding and recovery efforts underway.

“President Obama has made Hurricane Sandy response efforts a top priority for his Administration,” said Jewell. “This youth corps will not only strengthen recovery and mitigation efforts in our National Parks throughout the region, but it will also serve as a model for the power of public-private partnerships to boost youth employment and connect young people to the great outdoors.”

“America’s national parks are unrivaled inspirational assets and the passion of America’s youth is our most powerful resource,” stated Dale Penny, President & CEO of SCA, which is managing the resiliency corps. “Local students are telling us they are ready to do whatever it takes to help heal their community, and that pride and resiliency will prove stronger than any hurricane.” Youth interested in applying to the program can do so here.

The program is a public-private partnership, with funding from Hurricane Sandy Restoration and Recovery funds and matching SCA funds. American Eagle Outfitters is sponsoring 25 of the 200 corps members.

These 200 members of the new parks resiliency corps are in addition to the approximately 200 workers that New York City Parks Commissioner Veronica M. White announced on May 13 as part of the “Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Restoration Corps,” which was funded by an emergency grant from the U.S. and New York departments of labor.

“We are proud to partner with the U.S. Department of the Interior and the National Park Service to ensure our region’s recovery from the damages inflicted by Hurricane Sandy,” said White. “The creation of this new National Parks of New York Harbor Conservancy and Resiliency Corps, combined with our Jamaica Bay/Rockaway Parks Restoration Corps, is putting hundreds of New Yorkers to work while preserving some of our city’s richest ecological open spaces.”

“In addition to cleaning up damage from the hurricane, the National Parks of New York Harbor Conservation and Resiliency Corps will be restoring habitat, rebuilding trails and other projects,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “These efforts not only help the parks recover from the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but also begin to mitigate the effects of future storms and sea level rise.”

In July 2012, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and then-Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar signed an agreement between the city and the National Park Service for cooperative management of parklands. The partnership enables New York City parks and the National Park Service to work on each other’s lands, co-mingle resources and undertake joint planning efforts.

When Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast on October 29, 2012, the storm affected nearly 70 national park sites. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the country’s various conservation corps have played a vital role in efforts on-the-ground in the disaster-affected communities.

The newest corps members will serve as role models for the Obama Administration’s ongoing efforts to build a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, called 21 CSC. Building on the legacy of President Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression in the 1930s, the 21 CSC aims to help young people – including diverse low-income, underserved and at-risk youth, as well as returning veterans – gain valuable training and work experience while accomplishing needed conservation and restoration service on public lands and waters.

Since 2009, when Interior established its Office of Youth in the Great Outdoors, the department and its agencies have built one of the largest and most visible youth programs at the national level, employing more than 84,000 youth through direct hires and partnerships.

Last week, Secretary Jewell announced that the Interior Department expects to hire approximately 17,000 young people to work on public lands this year.

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