Student Conservation Association Statement on President Joe Biden’s Proposed Civilian Climate Corps, January 27, 2021

A Civilian Climate Corps, as announced by President Joe Biden exactly one week after taking his oath of office, is a bold response to an urgent challenge. Much like the original CCC, the Depression-Era Civilian Conservation Corps, Biden’s Climate Corps will put Americans to work protecting our natural resources at a time of economic crisis and elevated joblessness.

But unlike the 1930s, today’s foremost ecological threats are not limited to our parks and forests, they exist worldwide. International experts warn we must curb rising global temperatures by 2030 or face a worst-case climate scenario. As an organization that measures progress in generations, that looming deadline underscores the pressing nature of the risks to nature.

Yet a Civilian Climate Corps also ties to SCA’s mission, as it seeks to engage the rich diversity of the American populace, including young people of color, in building a more resilient and sustainable future for all. Specific actions include planting millions of trees in urban neighborhoods to reduce heat stress and improving the management of our nation’s forests. SCA members have long advanced such projects, in both the front- and backcountry, to enhance carbon sequestration, flood control, and habitat integrity.

The Climate Corps would also strengthen coastal ecosystems, remove invasive species, install wildlife corridors, and maintain hiking and biking trails – again, areas in which SCA members already excel, contributing to a greater quality of life in communities and wildlands across the U.S. while participants gain the hands-on experience needed to undertake long and productive green careers.

SCA stands ready to take further action in tackling the climate crisis, advancing this important initiative, and addressing the greatest ecological problem of our time. We also applaud the Administration’s other climate steps, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and focusing on environmental justice through investments in low-income and minority communities. 

In truth, the time for a Civilian Climate Corps arrived years ago. SCA is nonetheless pleased to see it presented now among the new administration’s top priorities. Let’s no longer delay. Let’s deploy a Civilian Conservation Corps.