Rep. Grijalva today congratulated Youth & Wildlife Conservation as Las Cienegas Grasslands and the Arizona Youth Conservation Engagement Pathway Pilot Project on being among the 22 recipients of new Interior Department grants to train and employ youth on public lands. The grants are part of the Obama administration's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and will employ 600 young people between the ages of 15 and 25 in conservation and land management.
Specific details about the projects, which were funded on a competitive basis, are available here.
"I'm excited to see the Interior Department investing in the future of stewardship, especially so close to home," Grijalva said. "Our public lands are our national heritage, and people coming out of high school and college should be encouraged to pursue these kinds of careers. Without skilled managers, interpreters and promoters, our public lands will be at risk of degradation and lack of public interest, and that would be a terrible legacy to leave our grandchildren."
As Tom Kiernan, the president of the National Parks Conservation Association, recently explained in a Huffington Post op-ed, "Before grappling with the new federal mandate tocut 5 percent of its entire operating budget, the [National Park Service] was already suffering from a funding shortfall in the hundreds of millions of dollars, had already taken a 15 percent cut in the last decade, and already has a staggering $12 billion maintenance backlog." You can read that entire piece at http://huff.to/Z5o0lJ.
Grijalva sponsors the Public Lands Service Corps Act, which reforms and updates that Public Lands Corps program to employ youth in public lands conservation across the country. Corps participants carry out a variety of work at many of the country's most visited landscapes, including trail maintenance, wildlife monitoring, and forest fire mitigation.
Grijalva's bill updates Public Lands Corps employee activities to be in line with current needs and land management trends. It also emphasizes outreach to new participants from underrepresented portions of the population, establishes coordinating offices for the program at the Interior Department and U.S. Forest Service, and authorizes National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) participation. NOAA is responsible for the management of the National Marine Sanctuaries System.
"We all want to see the president's Twenty-First Century Conservation Service Corps succeed, and I hope other take this success as an opportunity to look at my bill and see what a win-win it could be for our public lands and our economy," Grijalva said.