Interior Secretary: Youth conservation corps offering will create 17k jobs

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell rolled out a massive youth conservation jobs program Thursday in Portland.

The U.S. Interior Department’s secretary told a Portland audience Thursday that a conservation jobs program could hire some 17,000 young people to work on public lands.

Sally Jewell, the former REI CEO who took over the interior department this year, revealed the program, called the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, will include $1.27 million in funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and $275,000 from Wells Fargo.

“This initiative is a model of how public-private partnerships can both conserve our land and provide opportunities for our young people to obtain jobs skills and broaden their horizons by connecting with the great outdoors,” Jewell said at the event, held at Portland’s Oaks Bottom refuge. “Through the 21CSC, we hope to expand these partnerships that foster economic opportunities and create a connection with nature for young people that lasts a lifetime.”

The Portland-area projects covered in the program include:

  • Portland Urban Youth Corps, a partnership between the Northwest Youth Corps, the Bureau of Land Management, Wolftree Inc. and the Sandy River Basin Watershed Council. The crews will work some 7,650 hours on projects around the Sandy River Basin.
  • Habitat-fish status in Northeast Oregon ESA Chinook populations. Among other efforts, the project will work to preserve chinook and steelhead in the Grande Ronde Basin.
  • Native plant work along the Columbia River and the Oregon coast.

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said at the event that Jewell’s efforts nicely demonstrates “the need for the public sector and private sector to come together to create green jobs.”

Added Wells Fargo's Don Pearson, "These grants will provide practical, conservation job skills for our future workforce, support federal and nonprofit work to encourage stronger communities and help preserve our environment."

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