The American Conservation Experience (ACE), in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Pinnacles National Park, will connect youth to public lands this summer through a multi-scale conservation project that will provide jobs and applied job skills training to local and tribal youth. ACE will hire 23 youth to work on a large conservation program that includes endangered species protection, habitat restoration, community building, and environmental interpretation that will benefit BLM lands managed for conservation.
Project activities and training will include: radio tracking condors, habitat restoration (such as microtrash collection, native seed collection, seeding, and invasive plant control), outreach through public speaking and presentations, video and web design for nature interpretation and mentoring other youth through K-12 school programs. The youth will have job shadowing opportunities with professional natural resource managers and educators at the BLM field office in Hollister, the Condor and Habitat Restoration programs, and the University of California, Santa Cruz Environmental Toxicology Lab. A total of 32 project volunteers from surrounding communities will also carry out activities in the field to directly enhance California condor survival and restore their habitat.
The grants for three projects — including watershed stewardship and riparian habitat restorations projects throughout the state, are funded in partnership with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NWFW). The programs will provide jobs resulting in paid conservation work experiences for 52 youth on public lands in California, as well as fund materials, transportation and other related supplies. These projects will also support approximately 70 volunteers working on public lands.
"Connecting young people to the natural world is essential," said BLM California State Director Jim Kenna. "These projects are opportunities to engage young people from diverse backgrounds and equip them with the skills to become effective stewards of public lands."
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced the grant recipients at an event held at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge outside Denver, Colorado, where she was joined by U. S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment Arthur "Butch" Blazer; Greg Knadle, Vice President for Government Relations of the NFWF; Refuge Manager David Lucas and youth corps members of Groundwork Denver.
The grants are part of the Department of the Interior's youth initiative to inspire millions of young adults and veterans to play, learn, serve and work in the great outdoors and the President's 21st Century Conservation Service Corps Initiative.
The three projects selected in California are part of 43 recipients nationwide, receiving more than $6.7 million. The projects are being funded through the America's Great Outdoors: Developing the Next Generation of Conservationists, a competitive grant matching program launched in December 2011 in conjunction with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF). Through the program, a total of $1.9 million in federal funds is being leveraged into the $6.7 million to support youth across the country. In addition to providing work for youth, the grants facilitate volunteer opportunities for youth and adult mentors.
The land management agencies participating in the NFWF Next Generation program include Interior's Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Bureau of Reclamation (BOR), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service (USFS). The National Park Service and USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) also are partners in some projects.
For the full press release and contact information about the program, click here.