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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

July 22, 2009

Contacts:
Oliver Bernstein, Sierra Club, 512-477-2152
Kevin Hamilton, Student Conservation Association, 603-543-1700
Kathleen O’Neil, National Parks Conservation Association, 202-419-3717

Young Americans Join Congressman Raśl Grijalva to Support the
Public Lands Service Corps

Washington, DC -- Today, the next generation of public lands stewards and enthusiasts joined Congressman Raśl Grijalva, Sierra Club, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), and The Corps Network to clear the trail towards green and service-oriented jobs. Gathered at the House Triangle on the East side of the US Capitol building, Grijalva, SCA crew members, West Virginia Citizens Conservation Corpsmembers (WVCCC), NPCA leaders and youth and young adults from Sierra Club took up tools to advocate for the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009, HR 1612.

H.R. 1612 would expand an existing program, the Public Lands Corps, to reach many more young Americans, more public lands and make service work on our marine and coastal ecosystems eligible for Corps funding. The bill would improve and greatly increase opportunities for youth and young adults, particularly those from underserved communities, to gain valuable job skills and spend time working outdoors while providing much-needed services on our Nation’s public lands.

Sierra Club’s National Youth Representative, Jacqueline Ostfeld praised Grijalva. "It is because of Congressman Grijalva’s leadership that a new and diverse generation might get on the path towards green and service-oriented careers; and become the next generation of public lands employees and enthusiasts."

"I see nature and the environment in a totally different light due to my SCA experience," states Talita Sueldo, an 18-year old from Washington, D.C. currently serving her third hitch with the Student Conservation Association. "I’m now a steward for life and want to see others enjoy the same service and growth opportunities as I’ve had."

"Service and Conservation Corps utilize the Public Lands Corps program to carry out important projects on public lands while, at the same time, providing diverse and disadvantaged young people with opportunities to pursue careers in conservation and resource management. H.R. 1612 will enable the Corps to accomplish significantly more work and engage thousands of additional young people," said Sally Prouty, President of The Corps Network.

The Public Lands Service Corps would be jointly administered by the Departments of Interior, Commerce and Agriculture. Service Corps members’ work could include rehabilitating campgrounds, restoring historic structures, eradicating invasive species, and helping to conduct science and research projects in the park system. They might also reach out to communities and help enhance interpretation and education of national park visitors.

The bill would also authorize Corps activities to address climate change. Corps participants would gather scientific data, including climatological information. They could learn how to retrofit old buildings and construct new public lands facilities using green building technologies, including solar technology. Corps members would also work to enhance the resiliency of our public lands in the face of climate change by eradicating invasive species and taking steps to remove other stressors.

"In addition to learning new skills, members of the Public Lands Service Corps would be doing work that otherwise wouldn’t get done on public lands and in national parks and American Indian communities," said Craig Obey, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs for the National Parks Conservation Association. "This bill gives Congress an opportunity to encourage young Americans to serve our country and contribute to a public lands legacy that will benefit their children and grandchildren."

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