As Parks Suffer, Interior Hiring Youths to Groom 'New Generation of Conservationists'

In the first summer since mandatory sequestration cuts went into effect, outdoor playgrounds around the country have had to compensate for stripped budgets with reductions in access or services.

Cape Cod National Seashore in Massachusetts announced at the beginning of April it would have to cut most of its programs along with some technicians and custodians to cope with a $376,000 shortfall. John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon said at the end of April that it would have to shutter its visitor center for 30 days and cut tours for school groups by 80 percent. Acadia National Park in Maine declared it would have to reduce staffing and the park would be closed for an additional month.

In addition to many more examples like this across the nation's protected lands, the prospect of furloughs still looms as does the potential for decreased upkeep of nearly 30 percent of the country's land area controlled by the federal government.

But you'd hardly know there was fiscal trouble at the Interior Department with the latest project of President Obama and new Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

For his Youth Jobs+ program, Obama "issued a challenge to businesses, non-profits, and government: work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth," according to the White House. It follows on the heels of his 2012 Summer Jobs+ program that focused on youth employment in the heat of campaign season.

Jewell announced that $1.27 million is being pulled from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Bureau of Reclamation to support "conservation employment and mentoring opportunities for more than 600 young people ages 15-25 on public lands across the country."

“This initiative is a model of how public-private partnerships can both conserve our land and provide opportunities for our young people to obtain jobs skills and broaden their horizons by connecting with the great outdoors,” said Jewell. former president and CEO of REI.

She said the program builds not only on Obama's summer jobs call but on his 21st Century Conservation Service Corps idea announced in January.