21st Century Conservation Corps

Congressman Joe Neguse's 21st Century Conservation Corps Act would tackle multiple challenges simulatenously, addressing unemployment rates caused by COVID-19, tackling western wildfires, restoring our lands and communities and addressing climate change. 

The plan would take a page out of FDR’s New Deal program to recreate the corps of the 1930s, which built Red Rocks, roads, trails and campgrounds in Rocky Mountain National Park and supported other projects throughout Colorado. Neguse’s proposed 21st Century Civilian Climate Corp would reimagine this program, put hundreds of thousands of Americans back to work in the wake of the COVID-19 economic crisis, and make major investments in wildfire resiliency, mitigation and adaptation. The plan additionally would support Colorado’s outdoor recreation industry and address outdoor access by investing in the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program and Every Kid Outdoors Program.

Given record-breaking wildfires across Colorado in 2020, including the Cameron Peak and East Troublesome Fires, two of the largest in state history, historic investments to address future wildfires are crucial. The proposal from Congressman Neguse would invest in programs that have previously benefited Colorado’s wildfire suppression efforts, such as the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, and Firewise and would hire and train a new generation of workers to support forest management, wildland fire suppression and wildfire recovery.

21st Century Conservation Corps Act Elements

The program would address the rise in unemployment due to COVID-19 by employing hundreds of thousands of young Americans to complete projects to restore our lands, forests and communities.

The 21st Century Conservation Corps Act would authorize a $9 billion fund to create the corps, invest in job training and increase workforce capacity on our lands. 

The plan would provide needed resources for public lands manangement and wildfire mitigation by increasing funding for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP), which funds large-scale, community-driven restoration projects with the goal of reducing the risk of megafire, supporting jobs in rural communities, and enhancing wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities across the nation. 

Additionally the plan provides funds for the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service maintenance accounts to put people to work reducing the maintenance backlog on National Forest System lands, including reforestation; and invests $2 billion for programs like Firewise, which help local governments plan for and reduce wildfire risks, a program that my district heavily relies on.  

The plan would expand access to the outdoors by expanding the Every Kid Outdoors Program, which provides U.S. fourth graders and family members free access to over 2,000 federal lands and waters allowing them educational opportunities to learn about wildlife, resources, and history. This creates crucial connections to public lands and inspires a future generation of stewards for America's public lands.

The plan would also invest $500 million in the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Program, which helps urban communities address outdoor recreation deficits by supporting projects in cities that create new outdoor recreation spaces, reinvigorate already existing parks, and form connections between people and the outdoors.

The plan would support the outdoor recreation economy and Colorado's mountain communities by establishing a $2 billion relief fund to help outfitters and guides who hold U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Department of the Interior special use permits – and their employees – stay afloat through the truncated recreation season. The plan would also establish temporary waivers for the payment of public lands use fees and ski area fees to give desperately needed relief to outdoor industries that drive our rural economies.