McSally Bill to Improve Public Lands Passes House Committee
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Representative Martha McSally’s bill to address over $580 million in backlogged National Park maintenance projects today passed out of the House Natural Resources Committee with bipartisan support. The 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Act will enable federal agencies, like the National Park Service (NPS), to partner with national service corps organizations in order to complete projects faster and more efficiently—at no additional cost to taxpayers.
“This staggering backlog in park maintenance projects hampers Arizonans’ ability to fully enjoy and access the natural beauty of our state,” said Congresswoman McSally. “My bipartisan bill leverages existing resources in a smarter way to get these delayed and deferred maintenance projects moving. It also expands opportunities for youth and veterans who need service hours to volunteer to help our parks. This bill is a win for everyone—taxpayers, national park users, veterans, and even inner-city youth. I’m thankful for the Committee’s support of my bill and I will continue to shepherd this legislation through until it is public law.”
“I applaud the House Committee on Natural Resources for passing our 21CSC Act, which would create more opportunities for Americans to serve. In Arizona and across the country, our national parks and public lands are in need of help as a backlog of critical projects grows. Our legislation would enable young people and transitioning veterans to serve their communities by enhancing our national parks and public lands, while spending no additional taxpayer dollars. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to follow the House’s lead by taking up and passing this important legislation,” said Senator McCain, who introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
The 21st Century Service Corps was initially created as part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative. The Department of Interior and the U.S. Forest Service established cooperative public-private partnership programs throughout the country. Volunteers completed a range of necessary and helpful projects, everything from trail maintenance to historic preservation to forest regeneration to frontline services for visitors.
A recent report showed that public-private partnerships saved the National Park Service more than $50,000 per project on average, with one project achieving savings of over $220,000. Congresswoman McSally’s legislation codifies the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps program in law and increases the number of Federal agencies authorized to enter into these cost-saving cooperative agreements.
The Natural Resources Committee unanimously passed the legislation out of the committee. It will next be evaluated on the House floor.