Old-timers may remember the Civilian Conservation Corps from the 1930s. Now, through the efforts of Oregon congressman Greg Walden, today's young adults can experience something like the old CCC that also has a heavy learning component.

The Resources Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives passed the piece of legislation, sponsored by Walden, by unanimous consent Sept. 16.

H.R. 4838, the Healthy Forest Youth Conservation Corps Act of 2004, establishes a program for young adults to gain experience in forestland management while helping to implement fuels reduction components of the Healthy Forest Restoration Act (HFRA), which Walden co-authored, signed into law last year.

Walden, who chairs the Resources Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, introduced the Healthy Forest Youth Conservation Corps Act to give young adults ages 16 to 25 the opportunity to obtain skills and valuable education in forestland management while conducting work in fuels reduction projects on federal forestlands. Projects will be directed at efforts to prevent catastrophic fire and rehabilitate public land affected or altered by fires. Most notably, work will be done in accordance with HFRA plans to reduce hazardous fuels.

Young adults participating in the corps will be managed by the agency in charge of the given forestland, namely the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management or the U.S. Forest Service, part of the Department of Agriculture. The managing agency can contract directly with youth, or they can enter into contracts with state-level departments of natural resources, agriculture or forestry.

"Through the Youth Conservation Corps, our young people, especially those who are disadvantaged, will be able to gain valuable education about and a sense of ownership in our public lands," Walden said. "They will receive hands-on training that can better position them for future careers in forest management while taking proactive measures to prevent catastrophic wildfire. Most importantly, we will be teaching future generations about the importance of responsible stewardship of our forests."

Congressman Walden represents the Second Congressional District of Oregon, which includes 20 counties in southern, central and eastern Oregon. He is a Deputy Whip in the House leadership structure and a member of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce as well as the Committee on Resources.

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