American Climate Corps Echoes New Deal Programs

A new fed­er­al titled the Cli­mate Corps (ACC) itself on the Depres­sion-era Civil­ian Con­ser­va­tion Corps (CCC), which cre­at­ed tens of thou­sands of jobs and built thou­sands of small and large infra­struc­ture around the coun­try.

The ACC will focus on cli­mate resilience, explains Brooke Larsen in High Coun­try News. “The jobs they do will vary, from wild­land fire­fight­ers and “ busters” to urban farm fel­lows and tra­di­tion­al eco­log­i­cal knowl­edge stew­ards. Some will work on or ener­gy con­ser­va­tion in cities, while oth­ers will tack­le inva­sive species and stream restora­tion on pub­lic land.” The avail­able are gen­er­al­ly staffed through state and local non-prof­its that part­ner fed­er­al agen­cies. “In New Mex­i­co, for exam­ple, mem­bers of Con­ser­va­tion Lega­cy’s Eco­log­i­cal Mon­i­tor­ing Crew will help the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment col­lect and veg­e­ta­tion data.”

Larsen notes that “Ameri­Corps and con­ser­va­tion corps pro­grams have been crit­i­cized for offer­ing low wages and few ben­e­fits” and exclud­ing peo­ple of col­or and low-income com­mu­ni­ties. “While the admin­is­tra­tion aims for all posi­tions to pay at least $15 an hour, the low­est-paid posi­tion in the West is cur­rent­ly list­ed at $11 an hour. Ben­e­fits also vary wide­ly, though include an edu­ca­tion ben­e­fit, and, in some cas­es, health care, child care and hous­ing.”

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