The California State Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water approved legislation to create a conservation corps dedicated to restoration and climate resiliency work along the California Coast. SB 1036, authored by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), passed with a unanimous, bipartisan vote.
“As recent history has vividly demonstrated, our state’s coastal areas are extremely vulnerable and need to be safeguarded in every way possible,” said Senator Newman. “In the face of accelerating climate change and the devastating impacts of recent oil spills, Californians up and down the state will be well served by a workforce development program deliberately designed to efficiently and comprehensively maintain, protect, and restore California’s beaches and other coastal ecosystems.”
The Ocean Corps will be tasked with projects to address the current and potential impacts of climate change; restore and enhance coastal watersheds and habitats; provide public access to the coast; and address extreme weather events or other natural and manmade hazards that threaten coastal communities, infrastructure, and natural resources. Through this critical work, the Ocean Corps will prepare young people and adults for quality employment and strengthen the pipeline for an environmentally-conscious workforce.
SB 1036 will allocate $40 million over four years to the California Conservation Corps to establish the California Ocean Corps through grants available to local certified corps in coastal counties. Areas most impacted by the oil spill off the coast of Orange County will be given priority for grant funding, given the urgent and increased need for restoration work following the oil spill in October of 2021.
SB 1036 is coauthored by a coalition of legislators representing coastal areas including Senators Bob Archuleta, Patricia Bates, Dave Min (principal coauthor), Henry Stern, Tom Umberg and Assemblymembers Steven Choi, Philip Chen, Laurie Davies, Janet Nguyen and Cottie Petrie-Norris (principal coauthor).
The bill is supported by Anaheim Chamber of Commerce, Anaheim Workforce Development Board, Banning Ranch Conservancy, Blue Latitudes Foundation, Bolsa Chica Conservancy, California Environmental Voters, City of Laguna Beach, Friends of Harbors, Beaches and Parks, Orange County Conservation Corps (Sponsor), Orange County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Surfrider Foundation (Sponsor) and Wyland Worldwide.
The bill now moves to the Senate Appropriations Committee.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
“We need to be doing everything we can to protect our coast from sea level rise,” said Laura Walsh, Surfrider Foundation California, co-sponsor of SB 1036. “So many of us in the world of ocean conservation were motivated by early memories in the ocean and at the beach. We can’t think of a better way to prepare for the future than to engage young people in restoration and resiliency.”
“The Orange County Conservation Corps is looking forward to expanding opportunities for young people to gain valuable job skills while mitigating climate change and conserving our precious coastline. Especially when we consider the impact of recent oil spills in Orange County, we’re so proud that Senator Newman asked us to be part of this effort,” said Katharyn Muniz, Orange County Conservation Corps CEO, co-sponsor of SB 1036.
“The OC oil spill along our coast last fall reminded us that we must do more to protect our beautiful beaches, both for their scenery and the millions of dollars they generate in tourism,” said Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris (D-Irvine), principal coauthor of SB 1036. “Mobilizing a knowledgeable and skilled corps of young people is a smart investment in the fight against sea-level rise and smart workforce development for our economy.”
“Here in Orange County, we are all too familiar with the accelerating impacts of climate change,” said Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), principal coauthor of SB 1036. “This legislation will bolster our climate resiliency efforts by educating and training young people to protect and restore our precious coastal ecosystems. In the near term, the focus on areas hit hardest by the recent Orange County oil spill will instrumental to long term restoration and recovery efforts in the region.”
“A California Ocean Corps (COC) dedicated to ecosystem restoration and climate resiliency endeavors is something ALL Californians can appreciate. I look forward to working with my legislative colleagues on SB 1036’s passage as we strive to ensure California’s readiness to respond to all manner of coastal emergencies,” said Senator Bob Archuleta (D-Pico Rivera), coauthor of SB 1036.
“I’m pleased to co-author this important environmental protection measure with Sen. Newman because it is time California and all of our communities prepare the next generation of leaders to be the stewards of our beautiful coast,” said Assemblywoman Laurie Davies (R-Laguna Niguel), coauthor of SB 1036. “As we look to make good on California’s conservation and climate-resiliency goals, we need new leaders to get the appropriate training and showcase the wide array of green-energy jobs that are available in our communities.”