Friday, August 28, 2015

$500,000 Awarded to Establish Gulf Restoration Conservation Corps

Local young adult Conservation Corps workers cutting nature trail west 
of town in a pilot project collaboration with the City of Apalachicola

Public and Private Partnership will support The Nature Conservancy and The Corps Network project on the Gulf Coast

New Orleans, LA – A unique public and private partnership will create dozens of restoration jobs for young people and veterans along the Gulf Coast, The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and The Corps Network (TCN) announced yesterday. The project, supported by a $250,000 grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF), and a $250,000 matching grant from a private donor, will create and sustain three conservation corps crews along the Gulf Coast.

Keith Monda, a Nature Conservancy supporter who lives near the Gulf in Sarasota County, Florida and is the private donor to this project, said that the Gulf Restoration Conservation Corps will provide training and employment for young people and veterans, enabling them to become stewards of our natural resources.

“The restoration of the Gulf of Mexico is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to protect critical habitats and create jobs in communities impacted by the oil spill and natural disasters,” said Monda. “If we do restoration right, we can put people to work and restore our natural resources at the same time. The Gulf Restoration Conservation Corps will lead the way in showing how we can create jobs, provide important training, and protect our natural resources at the same time.”

The Conservancy will work in partnership with TCN to carry out the grant. The Corps Network is a national organization of conservation corps with extensive experience in recruiting, training, and supervising young people in on-the-ground conservation work. Over the past year , TNC and TCN have cooperated in two pilot Gulf conservation projects in coastal Mississippi that have demonstrated the effectiveness of conservations corps in accomplishing Gulf restoration projects.

 

The new project will have three components:
  • Establishment of Climb CDC Conservation Corps in Gulfport, Mississippi to work along the Mississippi coast,
  • Establishment of Conservation Corps of the Forgotten Coast Apalachicola, Florida to work in the Apalachicola basin, and
  • Creation of a veteran’s conservation corps to work on forest conservation and stewardship on public lands along the Gulf coast.
  • The project will cooperate with local governmental and non-governmental organizations on restoration activities. 
“We are very grateful to NFWF and to Keith Monda for supporting this important project, and we are pleased to work with TCN again in moving quickly to get these crews of local young people up and running,” said Bob Bendick director of TNC’s Gulf of Mexico Program.

“Our past experience has shown how much valuable conservation work can be accomplished by local young people and how they can use this experience to participate in the restoration economy in the Gulf.  I particularly want to express our thanks to Keith Monda and his wife, Linda, who through their gift are not only making this project possible but are demonstrating how private philanthropy can leverage public funds and can play a significant role in pioneering new ideas for Gulf restoration.”

Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network, praised the unique public-private partnership and the leveraged positive impact on Gulf Coast communities.

“The Corps Network and our members are delighted to see that the continuing involvement of young people and veterans in the restoration of the Gulf through the Conservation Corps model,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “We would like to especially thank Keith Monda for his generous support and belief in the Gulf Coast Restoration Initiative, as well as the Walton Family Foundation, The Nature Conservancy, and many partners in the Gulf Region.

“Over the past year and a half, we have demonstrated through several pilot projects that young people have the will and desire to be involved in this critical work. Dating back to the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, Corps programs have empowered young people to take care of their country’s treasured natural areas, for the benefit of local economies, communities, and their families. Funding projects with Corps programs will help continue this legacy in the Gulf Region.”

It is expected that this project will be a prototype for the development of even larger scale conservation corps projects in the Gulf region such as those that may be funded under the provisions of the RESTORE Act. 

November 7, 2014: Mayor's Blog Post

July 23, 2015: Mayor's Blog Post

August 1, 2015: Mayor's Blog Post