Mr. MORAN. Mr. Speaker, today I join Representative Ander Crenshaw in introducing the ``International Conservation Corps Act of 2013'' (ICCA), legislation that will mobilize our large and growing community of retired conservation experts, in a voluntary capacity, to support the efforts of developing countries to sustainably manage their natural resources.
There is a significant deficit in the capability of most developing countries to successfully manage their natural resources, which is fundamental to sustainable development, poverty alleviation, conflict avoidance, good governance, and regional security. Countries with a great wealth of natural resources are often cursed with devastating poverty, corruption and civil war arising from disputes over control and distribution of these resources.
The International Conservation Corps Act will harness the vast experience of the United States in natural resource management and direct it to developing countries to help them operate and develop more sustainable programs. Modeled after the Peace Corps, the ICCA program would offer retired land managers, geologists, biologists, and park rangers the opportunity to volunteer their services to the foreign country. The ICCA would cover the expenses necessary to deploy volunteers in other countries such as airfare, food, and lodging. The program will utilize volunteers who have long practical experience and are respected in their fields, and who are enthusiastic about opportunities to apply their knowledge and skills to assist other countries.
Under this proposal, the State Department would screen foreign government requests for assistance. Cleared requests would be forwarded to the Interior Department which would craft a prospectus that awards competitive grants to the nonprofit that assemble the best volunteer teams and most meritorious applications. Federal administrative costs would be minimal, ensuring tax payer funds are spent almost exclusively on ``boots on the ground.''
This modest proposal offers a highly effective way to stretch our limited foreign aid dollars to advance our national security interests, promote better environmental stewardship, avoid conflicts, encourage sustainable development and alleviate poverty.
I urge my colleagues to support this important legislation. Let's take advantage of this unique opportunity presented by a highly qualified corps of U.S. professionals to help developing countries establish good governance.