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Recreation Not Red Tape Act Passes House Committee on Natural Resources with 21CSC Act Included

Legislation encourages development of new recreation areas, as well as increased engagement of veterans in Corps and outdoor recreation through 21CSC Act

Hannah Traverse
The Corps Network
1275 K St NW – Suite 1050
Washington, DC 20005


[WASHINGTON, DC] The Partnership for the 21st Century Conservation Corps (P-21CSC) applauds passage of the bipartisan Recreation Not Red Tape Act in the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources today and thanks Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) and the Committee for including the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act (21CSC Act) as a provision of the bill. Following passage of the 21CSC Act in the Committee by unanimous consent in January of this year, this movement represents another important step towards the 21CSC Act being signed into law, and provides another avenue for its advancement.

Introduced in July 2017 by Chairman Bishop, the Recreation Not Red Tape Act (H.R.3400) seeks to increase access to public lands and outdoor recreation opportunities by streamlining permitting processes and encouraging collaboration between federal agencies and the private sector to support volunteer maintenance of public lands and the engagement of military veterans in recreation and outdoor work in Corps. The bipartisan 21CSC Act (H.R.2987) aligns with these goals in that the bill would make it easier for federal agencies to enter into public-private agreements with Corps and partner on projects to meet agency objectives. The 21CSC Act also prioritizes engaging veterans in the job training and meaningful experiences on public lands that Corps offer.

“On behalf of the Corps community, I am deeply grateful to Chairman Bishop and the Committee for movement on the Recreation Not Red Tape Act, and for including the 21CSC Act in this bill,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network and Co-Chair of the Partnership for the 21CSC. “Corps across the country partner with resource management agencies to accomplish critical projects to conserve and maintain public lands. These partnerships not only improve our natural resource infrastructure and create more opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, but also provide thousands of young adults and America’s veterans the chance to serve our country and gain in-demand skills in resource management. The RNR Act and 21CSC Act would both expand these cost-saving partnerships to get more work done, engage more veterans and young people in valuable service, and better promote Corps opportunities. We look forward to working with the Committee members and the sponsors and cosponsors of both bills to see the Recreation Not Red Tape Act – and subsequently the 21CSC Act – signed into law.”

Corps are presently authorized to partner with federal land management agencies through the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993. The 21CSC Act would update this legislation to recognize the need for a new 21st Century Conservation Service Corps that will address modern conservation, recreation, forestry, and infrastructure needs on public lands and in communities across the country.

Specifically, the 21CSC Act would:

  • Expand the number of federal agencies that can work with 21CSC programs. Enlisting Conservation Corps to do priority work has often proven to be more cost-effective for federal agencies.
  • Encourage federal agencies to collaborate, and require that they use only existing resources to work with 21CSC programs, meaning there would be no additional cost to tax-payers.
  • Designate coordinators at participating agencies to ensure the efficient functioning of the 21CSC.
  • Prioritize the engagement of recent veterans, native, and disadvantaged youth in 21CSC programs, and establish a new Indian Youth Corps program.
  • Establish standards for data collection and measuring the effectiveness of 21CSC programs.
  • Provide two years of non-competitive hiring eligibility with federal agencies for young people and veterans who gain valuable skills through service in 21CSC programs.
  • Provide new Internship and Resource Assistant opportunities for Corpsmembers, along with direct hiring authority.

The 21CSC Act was introduced in the United States House of Representatives and Senate (S.1403) on June 21, 2017. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), and Tom Udall (D-NM). It was introduced in the House by Reps. Martha McSally (R-AZ), Seth Moulton (D-MA), Scott Tipton (R-CO), and Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ). Additional cosponsors have since joined in both the House and Senate.

The 21CSC Act passed in the House Committee on Natural Resources in January 2018. In October 2017, Kevin Heiner, Associate Director of Southwest Conservation Corps (a member organization of the 21CSC), testified about the benefits of Veterans Conservation Corps during a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands hearing about the Recreation Not Red Tape Act.