Rep. Marko Liias, D-Edmonds, has proposed creating a Puget Sound Corps that would provide jobs for unemployed veterans and younger workers while also cleaning up Puget Sound. Liias’ House Bill 1294, which cleared the House Monday, would streamline the state’s conservation efforts into one program.
“Government efficiency, job creation, and protecting the environment are hard to accomplish at once, but Puget Sound Corps delivers that for Washington,” Liias said. “Streamlining our conservation corps program will free up funding, and our youth and veterans cleaning up Puget Sound, will leave a green mark on the state.”
The bill would bring the Washington Conservation Corps, currently spread out through several agencies, into the Department of Ecology as the Puget Sound Corps. The program would create 140 jobs for veterans and youth, all with existing state funding. In addition, the state hopes to leverage $4 million in federal support.
“For our unemployed veterans and youth, being a part of efforts to clean up Puget Sound will not only be a great transition into other careers,” Liias said, “it will also allow them to play a part in making the sound and Washington cleaner for the next generation.”
The legislation was requested by the Department of Natural Resources and the Department of Ecology, and Puget Sound Corps’ activities would support the Puget Sound Action Agenda, which aims to clean up Puget Sound by 2020. Crews would undertake projects such as identifying and removing fish passage barriers, controlling invasive species and restoring habitat along streams and shorelines.
The Puget Sound Corps legislation now goes to the Senate for further consideration.