The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee amended and passed S.360, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2013. An expanded Public Lands Service Corps program will provide more opportunities for thousands of young Americans to gain valuable workforce and career development while assisting our nation’s land and water management agencies to address critical maintenance, restoration, repair and rehabilitation needs in a cost effective manner.
The committee agreed to amend S. 360 to allow military veterans up to the age of 35 to participate in the Public Lands Corps program and inserted the authority of the Secretary to establish a preference for Corps that recruit members local to the state or region. The amendment also stripped unnecessary language allowing residential centers and temporary housing for Corps in an effort to lower the potential cost of the legislation. You can find the amendment here. Six Senators objected to the Committee passing the legislation (Sen Scott (SC), Sen Risch (ID), Sen Flake (AZ), Sen Lee (UT), and Sen Portman (OH)).
The legislation will next be "scored” by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and then be scheduled for Senate Floor consideration. The CBO "scorekeeping” process includes calculating the budgetary effects of the legislation and impact on the budget resolution. The Public Lands Service Coalition estimates that implementing this legislation will not bring the need for additional appropriations and will in fact help stretch the land and water management agencies operating budgets and looks forward to CBO’s scorekeeping. Research conducted by the National Park Service’s Park Facility Management Division found that using Conservation Corps to complete maintenance and trail projects provided a cost savings of over 50%.
The Public Lands Service Coalition commends Chairman Wyden (OR) and Ranking Member Murkowski (AK) for agreeing to a bipartisan amendment and passing this critical legislation. We look forward to the legislation being scheduled for floor action and signed into law by the President. Similar legislation has been introduced in the House by Representative Raul Grijalva (AZ-3) and has 32 cosponsors and awaits action by House Committee on Natural Resources.