The Honorable John McCain
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
The Honorable Michael Bennet
261 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator McCain and Senator Bennet,
We, the undersigned, write to thank you for the introduction of the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2015 (S. 1993) and pledge to work with you to support passage of the bill into law.
The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) is a bold national initiative that addresses the need for service and work-experience opportunities for young people and veterans; the need for maintenance, restoration, and research on our public lands, waters, natural and cultural resources; the need to connect Americans to the outdoors; and the need to develop the next generation of diverse public and private sector natural resource employees. The 21CSC will put America’s youth and returning veterans to work preserving, protecting, and promoting America’s greatest resources on public lands and in communities while building America’s future.
The 21CSC is a public-private partnership between resource conservation programs, land management agencies, and the private sector that increases service and work opportunities and encourages those agencies to use Conservation Service Corps to more effectively meet agency missions at no additional cost to the taxpayer by leveraging existing federal funds. The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2015 establishes into law the 21CSC with the aim of growing the 21CSC to 100,000 participants per year by 2018. The bill would do this by:
- Giving relevant federal agencies and departments the authority to engage Conservation Service Corps to complete pressing projects. Enlisting Corps to do priority work has often proven to be more cost-effective for federal agencies.
- Expanding the number of federal agencies and departments who can engage Conservation Service Corps and encouraging coordination across the federal government to identify ways agencies can leverage existing resources to expand the use of Conservation Corps to meet their missions. Participating Agencies and Departments include: the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Transportation, Labor, Energy, Defense, Veterans Affairs, and Commerce, and the EPA, Council on Environmental Quality, and Corporation for National and Community Service.
- Requiring reporting by participating agencies and departments and the GAO to avoid duplication and inefficiency to ensure the activities are done in a cost-efficient manner.
By relying on existing funding sources and creative funding strategies, including private support and crowd-sourcing, these important goals can be accomplished without additional federal funding by leveraging additional projects important to the nation in preserving, protecting, and promoting America’s resources.
The opportunities provided by 21CSC programs encourage young people and veterans to assume responsibility for the stewardship and preservation of America’s great outdoors, and also teach participants important career skills at a time when youth and veteran unemployment are at near record levels and young people are missing out on critical early job experiences. We know veterans are also seeking ways to transition into the civilian workforce.
In addition, 21CSC programs improve public health by helping young people develop and maintain active lifestyles while simultaneously increasing access to outdoor recreation, fostering healthy lifestyles in communities across America. What’s more, the 21CSC will complete thousands of critical projects in a cost effective manner, from wildfire mitigation and disaster relief to urban agriculture and habitat restoration.
Thank you again for championing national service and introducing the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act in recognition of the important work to be done in preserving our natural resources and meaningfully engaging youth and veterans. We look forward to working with your offices as this legislation moves through Congress and becomes law. Should you or your staff have any questions about this letter, please contact The Corps Network’s Director of Government Relations Tyler Wilson at 202-737-6272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.