Washington State Rep. Steve Tharinger, D-Sequim, introduced a bill to the Legislature Jan. 18 seeking to consolidate the Washington Conservation Corps with the state Department of Ecology.
Within the WCC, SoundCorps would be formed to focus specifically on projects to restore, protect and preserve Puget Sound, communications specialist Jennifer Waldref said.
Consolidating the program, which is administered by four different agencies, would save the state money and create an opportunity for Washington to leverage more federal funding for Puget Sound recovery efforts, she said.
The SoundCorps program would seek to generate more job opportunities for veterans, youths and the unemployed.
“Rethinking government means looking for ways to create savings and increase efficiencies,” Tharinger said. “At the same time, we need to stay on track with efforts to restore the health of Puget Sound. This bill is good for jobs, the environment and Washington’s bottom line.”
Supporting the Puget Sound Action Agenda, SoundCorps crews would work to identify and remove fish passage barriers, control invasive species and restore habitat along streams and shorelines.
“Puget SoundCorps will consolidate four state programs into one, leverage federal dollars and create jobs,” said Public Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark. “We can help clean up Puget Sound while reducing the burden on the state’s budget.”
The bill, HB 1294, has been referred to the House Environment Committee.
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