STATEHOUSE - Thousands of young Hoosiers will have a more productive summer, and many state recreational facilities will see improvements thanks to a new program announced today.
The Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps will employ 2,000 young people from low-income families to spruce up state-owned parks, trails and natural habitats. The program will be run by the state, but funding comes from federal stimulus money.
In House District 51, represented by Rep. Dick Dodge (R-Pleasant Lake), the Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps will prepare the Trine State Recreation Area for the public opening at Pokagon State Park.
"Indiana has some of the most beautiful land in the Midwest," said Rep. Dodge. "Quickly creating jobs that will preserve our state's beauty is a smart way to use federal stimulus money.
The program will employ people ages 16-24, and they will be paid $8.50 an hour for work in 100 state parks and recreational areas for 16 weeks between May 1 and Sept. 30. According to federal requirements, the jobs go to Hoosiers whose family incomes are at or below the poverty level (about $23,000 for a family of four).
The state's first hiring priorities will be veterans and people already receiving unemployment benefits.
The state Department of Natural Resources expects to restore up to 2,600 acres of natural habitat areas, build up to 110 miles of new trails, rehabilitate more than 1,100 miles of existing trails and restore about 40 structures. Training will include basic construction, historic preservation and greenway development skills.
The Department of Workforce Development and the DNR will oversee the program. Applications are being accepted online at www.youthworks.in.gov.
Indiana will receive about $24 million through the Workforce Investment Act. If the program proves effective, it will be renewed next year.
"It is great to have the youth work on these projects and then be able to enjoy the results of their hard work, with their families, down the road," said Rep. Dodge. "Hoosiers will benefit from the Young Hoosiers Conservation Corps for years to come.'"
Some examples of projects for the Hoosier Youth Conservation Corps:
n Potato Creek State Park, St. Joseph County: New trail construction and major trail rehabilitation.
n J. Edgar Roush Lake, Huntington, Wells counties: Removal of shrubs and trees and restoration of wildlife openings to maintain wildlife diversity.
n Deam Lake State Recreation Area, Clark County: Construction of a new six-mile horse trail loop.
n Turkey Run State Park, Parke County: restoration of historic Leiber Memorial.
n Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site, Noble County: repair and maintenance of historic Stratton-Porter home.
n Mississinewa State Park, Miami and Wabash counties: Repair work on historic Frances Slocum shelter.