Recap: 2018 Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke gives keynote at 2018 Partnership for the 21CSC Meeting, part of The Corps Network National Conference.

From the Partnership for the 21CSC (P-21CSC)

The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (P-21CSC) is a collective of key federal, state, local and non-profit leaders that supports the development and implementation of the 21CSC. In conjunction with The Corps Network National Conference in Washington, DC, the P-21CSC holds an annual meeting to honor important leaders in the Corps movement, review 21CSC accomplishments and goals, and discuss priority issues.

During the 2018 P-21SC Meeting, which took place February 12, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke delivered the keynote address and covered a range of topics, including his priorities for the Department of the Interior (DOI), how he is influenced by the legacy of President Theodore Roosevelt, and his vision for the future of the national park visitor experience. We heard details of his plans to create consistent “regions” across the various DOI agencies to ensure more efficient resource management that’s based on landscape features, like watersheds, wildlife corridors, and trail systems. Sec. Zinke also shared the Administration’s infrastructure plans, which prioritize addressing the National Park Service backlog and modernizing our parks. He emphasized that Corps have a role to play in partnership with the Department, and that there will be opportunities for young people who want to learn skills and a vocation. 

There was also a panel discussion that included Leslie Weldon, Deputy Chief of the National Forest System, U.S. Forest Service; Ben Cassidy, Senior Deputy Director for External and Intergovernmental Affairs, DOI; and Marshall Critchfield, Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, DOI. Mr. Cassidy and Mr. Critchfield spoke about the Administration’s priorities, ways to work together to increase project work for Corps, and the potential for new partnerships around Interior’s priority areas, like recreation and maintenance. Deputy Chief Weldon shared insight on Forest Service’s priorities and their plans for expanding the work Corps do with the agency, especially around addressing the agency’s most pressing concerns. This includes projects related to tree mortality, invasive species removal, and the management of high priority trails.

Other highlights from the P-21CSC Meeting included a presentation from the Pew Charitable Trusts – Restore America’s Parks, a key partner helping to raise the profile of deferred maintenance within the National Park Service. An official from Restore America’s Parks detailed the scope of deferred maintenance and explored potential legislative and administrative solutions like the National Park Service Legacy Act (S.751 & H.R.2584), which boasts wide bipartisan support in the House and Senate. We also recognized several honorees, including the 21CSC Corpsmember of the Year, Earl Bowman from Delaware State Parks Veterans Conservation Corps; the 21CSC Project of the Year (California Conservation Corps, Save the Sierras) and the 21CSC Champions of the Year for 2018.


21CSC Strategy Highlights + Accomplishments
During the P-21CSC Meeting, we also reviewed our 2018 strategy, including updated focus areas & messaging, a new communications plan, and a new education and outreach plan. Among the recent accomplishments we discussed were $20 million in funding for 21CSC from the US Forest Service; the inclusion of the work of 21CSC and Corps in the NPS, USFWS and USFS FY18 budgets; the NOAA GulfCorps Program; bipartisan introduction of a new 21CSC Act, and passage of the bill in the House Committee on Natural Resources; Sec. Zinke’s visits with several 21CSC organizations; and the promotion of environmental stewardship, veteran engagement, and disaster recovery at the Corporation for National and Community Service.