Our national parks are an important part of America’s natural heritage, providing stunning settings for people to learn about nature as well as habitats for plants and wildlife. It takes an army of dedicated workers to keep national parks clean, eradicate invasive species, educate visitors, rehabilitate campgrounds and restore historic structures.

Right now, the Park Service has a backlog of maintenance projects that they just haven’t had time to catch up on. If there were more volunteers and paid employees in the field, over-stretched Park Service managers could do their jobs more effectively, making national parks and public lands more enjoyable for all.

A new bill passing through Congress would provide just that. HR 1612, the Public Lands Service Corps Act of 2009, would create thousands of new, full-time paid service positions devoted exclusively to refurbishing and enhancing national parks and public lands. Special effort will be made to identify, recruit, hire, and train young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and the Public Land Service Corps will also seek seniors and military veterans to serve as Corps members and mentors.

The National Parks Conservation Association is urging citizens to show their support for this initiative by contacting their members of Congress through the NPCA website. A form letter is provided, but the NPCA encourages supporters to add their own personal stories to help persuade Congress to pass this important act. Add your voice at act.npca.org.