August 05, 2020
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King joined four of his Senate colleagues to introduce legislation that would create thousands of living wage jobs in rural America as these communities continue to grapple with unique and devastating economic challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act would support rural economies by investing in job training and development, rangeland and working lands conservation programs, and the planting of billions of trees.
“The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout has hit Americans across the country, and as Congress considers next steps, we need to make sure we create programs to specifically support rural communities,” said Senator King. “This legislation takes the challenge we face and turns it into opportunities. Under the 21st Century Civilian Conservations Corps Act, we will not only put Americans back to work so they can pay their bills, but we’ll be able to focus their efforts on vital environmental conservation efforts. This plan strengthens the future of our outdoor recreation industry, and ensures the long-term health of America’s bountiful natural resources; it’s a win-win, which Congress should take up.”
Specifically, the 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps Act:
· Provides an additional $3.5 billion for the U.S. Forest Service and $2 billion for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to increase the pace and scale of science-based hazardous fuels reduction and thinning efforts, prioritizing projects that are shovel-ready.
· Establishes a $9 billion fund for qualified land and conservation corps to increase job training and hiring specifically for jobs in the woods, helping to restore public lands and provide jobs in a time of need.
· Plants over four billion trees by 2030, and over 15 billion trees by 2050, on a combination of federal, state, local, tribal and NGO lands, with over 100 million trees to be planted in urban areas across America by 2030.
· Supports voluntary climate stewardship practices on over 100 million acres of farmland by providing supplemental funding for USDA working lands conservation programs.
· Provides an additional $150 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, the flagship program for community forest restoration and fire risk reduction.
· Provides $500 million for the Forest Service State and Private Forestry program, which will be divided between programs to help facilitate landscape restoration projects, including $100 million for the Firewise program to help local governments plan for and reduce wildfire risks.
· Provides an additional $150 million for the North American Waterfowl Management and Joint Ventures program and $150 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Partners for Fish and Wildlife program for rangeland management improvements.