Bennet Cosponsors Bill to Recruit Veterans, Underserved Communities for Environmental Conservation Programs

Washington, DC - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today cosponsored the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2015. The bill, introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), expands the pool of Public Lands Corps participants to include veterans, encourages recruitment among minority and underserved communities, makes it easier for Corps members to finish a degree before starting a full-time conservation career, and creates new programs to coordinate Corps activities at multiple federal agencies. It will help federal agencies do more within their current budgets without using additional taxpayer dollars.

"Colorado's conservation legacy allows us to enjoy our state's abundant natural beauty and incredible opportunities to recreate on our public lands and waters. Many young people and veterans across the state are eager to serve and learn more about conservation of these lands, which are crucial to our tourism and outdoor recreation industries," Bennet said. "This bill creates more opportunities for service and will help land and water management agencies to do more with their limited budgets."

The Public Lands Corps, established by the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993, has employed thousands of young people around the country to repair and restore our national parks, forests, wildlife refuges, historic sites, and other public and tribal lands. Today's bill modernizes the Corps by attracting new participants, especially from underrepresented populations, authorizing the creation of a new Indian Youth Service Corps to increase conservation efforts on tribal lands, allowing the National Marine Fisheries Service to employ Corps personnel to support the National Marine Sanctuary System, and making other improvements.

The Corps was established to address a massive public lands maintenance backlog, but years of inadequate funding has prevented agencies from completing the work. By directly engaging youth and veterans in the conservation and maintenance of public lands, the bill restores the nation's natural, cultural, historic, archaeological, recreational and scenic resources while training a new generation of public land managers and enthusiasts.

The bill is supported by numerous groups, including: Canyon County Youth Corps, Colorado Youth Corps Association, Conservation Legacy, National Congress of American Indians, National Parks Conservation Association, National Wildlife Federation, Rocky Mountain Youth Corps, Public Lands Service Coalition, Sierra Club, SCA, The Corps Network, The Wilderness Society, the YMCA, Veterans Green Jobs

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