Three-Year Gulf Conservation Corps Program will Boost Communities and Protect and Restore Critical Habitat
MOBILE, AL – Three hundred jobs are expected to be created over three years thanks to a joint conservation effort announced today by The Nature Conservancy. The $7 million-dollar project will be carried out by a partnership formed with the Conservancy, The Corps Network, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
“We are excited to launch this project with the support of NOAA,” said Mark Burget, Executive Vice President of The Nature Conservancy. “Together with The Corps Network and the Student Conservation Association, this project will address critical environmental issues along the Gulf while employing young adults who live in communities directly impacted by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In the Gulf of Mexico region as is the case elsewhere across the U.S., The Nature Conservancy believes that we have a responsibility both to restore and care for our environment and to prepare the next generation of Americans to assume that stewardship. GulfCorps will help to accomplish these objectives. We are grateful to NOAA and to the RESTORE Council for this opportunity.”
“We are excited to be working with our partners on this important effort,” said Pat Montanio, Director of the NOAA Fisheries Office of Habitat Conservation. “This program will both help restore Gulf ecosystems and improve Gulf economies and communities. We know that habitat restoration creates jobs—an average of 15 jobs per $1 million invested—and this program will also provide employment and on-the-job training in the field of restoration for local citizens.”
The work will be made possible by a RESTORE Act grant administered by NOAA. The grant will be distributed equally in all five Gulf states (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas) and will support existing local Corps organizations who will hire teams of local young adults to conduct restoration and conservation activities such as planting native vegetation, removing invasive species, and restoring stream banks and shorelines. The crew members and crew leaders will become thoroughly trained and experienced, providing them with marketable skills in the restoration economy taking shape in the Gulf of Mexico.
GulfCorps program director Jeff DeQuattro, who is also the director of restoration for The Nature Conservancy’s Gulf of Mexico program, said the project will provide meaningful benefits to communities along the coast.
“We are proud to be putting Gulf communities to work protecting and restoring the places they live, work and play,” said DeQuattro. “The amount of green restoration work that is beginning in the Gulf could keep multiple crews going for 15 years, and the GulfCorps program will provide a workforce that can implement components of these big projects.”
“The ecosystem and the economy of the Gulf Coast are inextricably linked,” said SCA President and CEO Jaime B. Matyas. “As Gulf Corps members fortify our natural resources, they will also gain vital, hands-on career training, ensuring that they are positioned to benefit from the rising tide of the Gulf restoration economy. For centuries, the Gulf waters have been the lifeblood of families and businesses throughout the region. By empowering a new generation of conservation leaders, Gulf Corps members will be equipped to navigate a bold and bright future.”
Conservation corps have been used to accomplish conservation objectives around the country since 1933 when President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps. Until recently, conservation corps have not been widely used across the Gulf of Mexico, even though communities along the Gulf stand to gain the most—both economically and environmentally—from the conservation corps model. The corps model involves engaging young people in completing projects that address local conservation and community needs. Through a structured term of service, corps participants earn a stipend and develop job skills.
“We are thrilled to partner with The Nature Conservancy and the Student Conservation Association in expanding Corps activity along the Gulf,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “Unfortunately, after years of exposure to natural and manmade disasters, Gulf Coast communities have suffered both ecologically and economically. There are restoration projects to be done and talented young people looking for work. This grant will help create opportunities for young adults in Gulf communities to engage in coastal conservation efforts and train for in-demand jobs in the growing restoration economy. We are proud to help support this effort that is a win-win for the Gulf Coast’s young people and habitats.”
GulfCorps is launching now, and will start with one crew assignment in each Gulf state in early 2018, two crews per state in 2019 and three crews per state in 2020.
This project was made possible through funding received from the NOAA Restoration Center and RESTORE Act. For additional information visit www.nature.org/gulfcorps
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at unprecedented scale, and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in more than 65 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit www.nature.org or follow @nature_press on Twitter.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) is America’s largest and most effective youth conservation service organization. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders. For more, visit www.thesca.org.
The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides leadership and support to over 130 Corps across the United States. Through advocacy, and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables more than 25,000 Corpsmembers to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service. To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.