Agencies back new conservation corp for youths, servicemembers

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Eight federal agencies will develop a conservation program to employ returning veterans and America's youth to protect and restore public lands, parks, waterways and cultural sites.

In a Jan. 10 announcement, the Interior Department announced the agencies signed a memorandum of understanding (.pdf) and established a national council that will further develop the Obama administration's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps.

The corps had already begun work under the Interior and Agriculture departments, including running shelters after Hurricane Sandy. Future work will focus on efforts to reduce the impact of climate change on natural resources, assist Native American communities, build trails, improve wildlife habitats and restore cultural and historic landmarks.

The 21CSC will have hiring goals to include low-income, underserved and at-risk youth, as well as returning servicemembers, in its job training and employment services.

Starting the 21CSC implements the first recommendation of the America's Great Outdoors Initiative introduced by President Obama in 2010, Interior said. The corps is built in the image of the Civilian Conservation Corps that President Franklin Roosevelt created in 1933 to help put men back to work said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

The agencies said the founding council will work to foster existing and new public-private partnerships and align them with investment of current federal government resources. The corps will also work with federal agencies and departments in their work.

Jo Ellen Darcy, assistant secretary of the Army (Civil Works) and who oversees the Corps of Engineers, said the effort "will expand the Corps' capacities to conserve and maintain these areas, and provide youth and veterans with meaningful work, education and exposure to the outdoors."

The National Council for the 21CSC will be made up of the secretaries of the Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Labor; the Environmental Protection Agency administrator; the chair of the president's Council on Environmental Quality, the CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service; and the assistant secretary for the Army (Civil Works).

For more:
- read Interior's announcement
- see the MOU (.pdf)
- go to the 21CSC's website or jobs page

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