|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Date:||March 22, 2010|
|Contact:||Alan Spears, NPCA Legislative Representative, 202-454-3384|
Parks Group Expresses Disappointment Over House Version of Service Corps Bill
Statement by NPCA Legislative Representative Alan Spears
"The Public Lands Service Corps Act was designed to put thousands of young Americans to work tackling backlog maintenance projects in national parks and public lands all across the country. Corps members were slated to assist with historic and cultural research, provide visitor services that promote safe use and enjoyment of public lands, engage local communities in volunteer opportunities at national parks, and enhance multilingual services to diverse visitors. With youth unemployment at over 25 percent, a historic high, and a maintenance backlog of over $9 billion for the National Park Service, H.R. 1612 combined job creation, workforce development, and national service, into a winning combination that enjoyed broad support among the American public.
"The version of H.R. 1612 passed by Congress on Saturday March 20th, while it includes many important elements, fails to deliver the benefits it was drafted to provide.
"Some last minute amendments greatly restrict the size and scope of the program and require that 75 percent of the funding be restricted to largely firefighting activities. This means Service Corps participants can only engage in a fraction of the national park visitor service and maintenance efforts that were in the original bill. These amendments change the nature of the program and limit the range of skill development for program participants.
"NPCA is disappointed that a procedural maneuver tying these changes to others that had broad support will severely limit the opportunity for the Public Lands Service Corps to work in our national parks. We urge the Senate to move quickly to pass a clean version of the bill that does not restrict the funding or scope of the program, that equitably and rationally distributes resources among participating agencies, and most importantly, puts more young Americans to work in national parks in rural and urban locations across our country."