Interior Announces Summer Jobs Program, Cancels Park Police Furloughs

National Park Service in March said that sequestration would force service reductions to many popular tourist attractions, including Utah's Arches National Park. National Park Service in March said that sequestration would force service reductions to many popular tourist attractions, including Utah's Arches National Park. Wikipedia Commons User Gridge

This story has been updated.

The Interior Department has launched a program to provide jobs for 17,000 young people at locations on the country’s public lands, in national parks and at wildlife reserves, as the National Park Service announced it was canceling remaining furloughs for U.S. Park Police.

The new jobs program has nearly $4.2 million -- mostly from grant funding -- to support thousands of employment and mentoring opportunities for young people.  The federal government will be working with local governments and private companies to help leverage opportunities and support the next generation of environmentalists. Through the program, Interior also hopes to create a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, as outlined by President Obama.

“This initiative is a model of how public-private partnerships can both conserve our land and provide opportunities for our young people to obtain jobs skills and broaden their horizons by connecting with the great outdoors,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said in a statement.

The program launched one day before the National Park Service announced the cancelation of furloughs for U.S. Park Police employees. In a statement released Friday, National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said that a comprehensive review, coupled with the savings from the three furlough days already taken, allowed the agency to cancel remaining furloughs for its police officers beginning June 1.

“This is good news for our employees, good news for our visitors as we start the summer season this Memorial Day Weekend, and good news for the security of our nation’s icons -- the places that the dedicated men and women of the U.S. Park Police protect every day,” Jarvis said.

As of Friday, the department still expected to furlough about 8,500 U.S. Geological Survey employees and about 4,100 Bureau of Indian Affairs employees, though notices had not yet been issued.

A memo released by the National Park Service in March said that sequestration would force service reductions at many popular tourist attractions, including at Yosemite National Park, and Yellowstone National Park.  The agency has already reduced temporary seasonal hiring, and has cut park maintenance and equipment purchases to help manage budget cuts. 

(Image via Wikimedia Commons user Gridge )

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