February 12, 2019

Udall & McCain’s 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act Clears Senate

Legislation championed by Udall and the late Senator John McCain would engage young people, veterans, Native communities in conservation service projects

WASHINGTON— Today U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that the Senate has passed the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act of 2019 (21CSC), legislation he championed with the late Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to reinvigorate the nation’s conservation service corps, bolstering public-private partnerships to engage youth and veterans in conservation-related civilian national service positions.

Originally introduced by McCain and Udall in 2017, the 21CSC would facilitate conservation service projects through cooperative agreements with participating federal agencies using existing funding. The bill strengthens the nation’s conservation corps, expanding the number of participating federal agencies that can develop conservation corps projects, and establishing a first-of-its-kind 21st Century Indian Youth Service Corps so Native youth can complete priority projects for the benefit of their tribes and communities. 

21CSC passed the Senate as part of a larger public lands package, s.47 the Natural Resources Management Act, which passed the Senate by a vote of 92-8.

“I am proud to have carried forward the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps in honor of the late Senator John McCain, who championed this legislation last Congress,” said Udall, ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies. “At a time when our public lands infrastructure needs repair, our outdoor spaces are more threatened than ever, and young people, veterans and Native communities face disproportionately high unemployment rates, the 21CSC modernizes a dated program to benefit local communities and our public lands. Already, the outdoor recreation economy employs 99,000 New Mexicans, and this bill will help inspire a new generation of conservation leaders through public service while improving our most treasured public spaces.”

In addition to Udall, cosponsors of the 21st Century Conservations Service Corps Act of 2019 include Senators Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Angus King (D-Maine), Patty Murry (D-Wash.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Steve Daines (R-Mont.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.).

The 21CSC would provide opportunities for America’s youth and returning veterans to work conserving, restoring, and enhancing America’s great outdoors, by:

— Expanding the number of participating federal agencies that may develop and support 21CSC projects in partnership with private entities, state governments, or Indian tribes. 

— Expanding the age limit of eligible Corpsmembers and increasing cooperation with veteran’s organizations to enable veteran participation. 

— Providing youth and veterans with the skills, credentials, and experience for success in the 21st century workforce.

— Granting Corpsmembers that complete 640 service-hours eligibility for noncompetitive hiring status and the ability to earn college credit for service.

— Establishing the 21st Century Indian Youth Service Corps so Indian youth can complete priority projects for the benefit of their tribes and communities.

— Requiring reporting by participating agencies and departments to avoid duplication and ensure that projects are executed in a cost-efficient manner.