LOS ANGELES (AP) — More than 20,000 new summer jobs will give young people an opportunity to work in America’s forests, national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands, federal officials announced Friday.

The summer work opportunities are to target people ages 15 to 25 and put them in touch with the great outdoors, said Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

“These first experiences building trails, clearing out hazardous fuels, or cleaning up rivers not only equip young people with skills for a new career, but can also awaken a love for the outdoors that lasts a lifetime,” said Salazar.

The jobs will involve building trails, clearing brush and cleaning up rivers, said Salazar.

The positions will come as part of 20 projects across the country that competed for $3.7 million in grants. The projects that were chosen for funding went through a competitive process.

The Bureau of Land Management provided $1.4 million of the grant money, and $2.3 million raised through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

Through the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, President Barack Obama has called for such jobs for the younger generation, to increase land stewardship and provide job experience.

Since 2009, Salazar said his department has employed 35 percent more young people each year.

In California, one approved project will focus on removing invasive pests and planting native plants in the San Bernardino and the Angeles national forests.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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