Bennet Applauds $11 Million Investment in 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Projects

Ten of the Conservation Focused Job Training Programs will Operate in Colorado

Washington, D.C. - Today, Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet applauded the announcement by the U.S. Forest Service and partners that they will invest more than $11 million to support work and training opportunities for more than 1,500 youth and veterans on national forests and grasslands in Fiscal Year 2016. The funding will go to the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), a public-private initiative that connects America's youth and veterans with job opportunities that conserve and protect natural resources. This year participants will focus on more than 120 priority projects across the country including ten in Colorado in the Rio Grande, Arapaho-Roosevelt, White River, San Juan, Medicine Bow-Routt, Manti-LaSal, and Grand Mesa/Uncompahgre/Gunnison National Forests. Click here for a full list of the Colorado projects.

Bennet has been a vocal proponent of the 21CSC. Last year, he introduced the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2015 with Senator John McCain (R-AZ) to increase civilian national service opportunities and help put America's youth and returning veterans to work.

"The 21CSC program is a cost-effective way to reduce the backlog of work and maintain our public lands, while also providing youth and veterans with meaningful job training experiences," Bennet said. "Colorado's natural landscapes are a critical part of both our heritage and our economy, and these investments are crucial to maintaining them. Our bipartisan bill will help preserve these treasures and create new opportunities for young people and veterans who are eager to serve and learn more about public lands."

Over the last two years, the U.S Forest Service has engaged 20,000 youth and veterans through partnerships with 21CSC member organizations and other institutions. The 21CSC program includes 191 non-profit organizations, academic institutions, and local, state, federal, and tribal governments.

The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2015 would enable certain federal departments and land management agencies to more effectively work with youth service organizations like the 21CSC to carry out their important missions without creating any new federal spending. Currently, there is an extensive backlog of public lands projects that have not been completed by federal land agencies. At the same time, there is also a high demand for national service positions, with applications to existing national service corps consistently exceeding the number of available positions. This bill aims to address both of these issues by authorizing federal departments and land management agencies to enter into cooperative agreements with 21CSC organizations to complete these important projects. The National Park Service has found that engaging the corps in trail maintenance projects provides more than a 50 percent cost savings.