The Legislature is considering the creation of the Puget SoundCorps as a component of the current Washington Conservation Corps (WCC). If approved, Washington State would be in position to attract more than $4 million in federal grants for the cleanup and restoration of Puget Sound. Best of all, this idea won’t require any new state spending. It consolidates the management of four programs into one within the Department of Ecology.
The bill, requested by Commissioner of Public Lands Peter Goldmark, is sponsored by Sen. Kevin Ranker, San Juan Island, and Rep. Steve Tharinger, Olympia.
It is unique to see government agencies turn over control, and the money that goes with it, to another agency. The legislation (SB 5230 and HB 1294) takes the administration of four WCC programs, including DNR’s, and places it in one agency, the Department of Ecology. DNR will then seek federal grants targeted towards the clean of Puget Sound to create more than 150 jobs, both within the WCC and the state’s Veterans Conservation Corps.
The Washington Conservation Corps is a state-run program to hire and provide on-the-job training to 18-to-25 year olds. Projects currently take place on both sides of the Cascades. They work on habitat restoration, environmental assessment, toxics cleanup and air and water quality, emergency response, among other programs. Members receive an hourly wage, and, after working for a year or a six-month term, they get federally funded awards to help pay for college.
The Puget SoundCorps proposal could be a big boost to the effort to restore the Sound to health by 2020 and to job creation for young people and veterans – all the while using federal, not state dollars.
|Follow DNR on:|