The Corps Network Applauds Congressional Passage of National Park Service Centennial Act, Looks Forward to Legislation Being Signed into Law
Submitted by Hannah Traverse on Tue, 12/13/2016 - 15:27
Bill contains provisions that would allow Corps to engage more veterans and help Corps alumni translate service experience into careers with federal resource management agencies
WASHINGTON, DC (December 13, 2016) – The Corps Network applauds the United States Senate for approving the House-passed National Park Service Centennial Act (H.R.4680) on Friday. This legislation now moves to the president for final consideration.
For their leadership in securing passage of this important legislation, The Corps Network thanks Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-NM).
In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service in 2016, the NPS Centennial Act would create funding streams and initiatives designed to improve NPS properties and enhance recreational and volunteer opportunities at parks. The goal is to help the Park Service prepare for “a second century of promoting and protecting the natural, historic, and cultural resources of our National Parks for the enjoyment of present and future generations.”
Key provisions that would amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 and strengthen Corps are included in Sec. 302 of the bill. First, there is a provision that would raise the maximum allowable age of Public Lands Corps participants from 25 to 30. This would give Corps the opportunity to engage more veterans in public lands service.
Second, there is a provision that would extend the noncompetitive hiring authority for Corps alumni from 120 days to two years. This would create a pathway to employment with federal natural resource management agencies for young people and veterans who, through their service in Corps, gain the in-demand skills and experience to be successful public lands professionals.
“The Corps Network strongly supports the National Park Service Centennial Act and hopes to soon see this important legislation signed into law,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “The National Park Service is the protector of America’s historic and natural treasures. Passage of the NPS Centennial Act would be a monumental step towards securing a bright future for our parks. A big part of protecting parks is having a skilled workforce to care for them, so we are very pleased that this bill contains provisions that would support the work of Corps in training the next, more diverse generation of resource management professionals. We are sincerely grateful to this legislation’s champions in the House and Senate.”
The NPS Centennial Act was originally introduced in Congress during the fall of 2015 by Ranking Member Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA) (H.R. 3556 and S.2257). The current version of the bill passed the House Committee on Natural Resources in March of this year. The bill is based off draft legislation developed by the Obama administration.
The two provisions in the NPS Centennial Act concerning Corps are similar to provisions found in the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Act and the Public Lands Service Corps Act, two pieces of legislation for which The Corps Network has advocated.
The Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 made it possible for Corps to work with land management agencies, like the National Park Service, to perform maintenance and improvement projects on public lands. The goal of the legislation is to assist land management agencies in maintaining our public lands in a cost-effective manner and to “expose young men and women to public service while furthering their understanding and appreciation of the Nation’s natural and cultural resources.”
The bipartisan 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC) Act includes provisions similar to those included in the Centennial Act to raise the maximum age of veteran Corpsmembers to 35 and extend non-competitive hiring authority to two years for Corps alumni. The bill would establish 21CSC in law and put America’s youth and returning veterans to work protecting, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors. The bill was introduced by Sens. McCain (R-AZ) and Bennet (D-CO) [S. 1993] and Reps. McSally (R-AZ) and Moulton (D-MA) [H.R. 5114].
The Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2015, introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) [S. 1160] and in the House by Ranking Member Grijalva (D-AZ) [H.R. 2167], would amend the Public Lands Corps Act of 1993 to make a variety of improvements for Corps, create a new Indian Youth Service Corps, and also make similar improvements to the Corps hiring authority.
About The Corps Network
The Corps Network provides leadership and support to over 130 of America’s Service and Conservation Corps. Through advocacy, access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables over 24,000 Corpsmembers, ages 16-25, to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service.
To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.