What is the Civilian Conservation Corps?

Dan Cavallari

As a result of the Great Depression, a large contingent of men in the United States between the ages of 18 and 24 found themselves unemployed and struggling to support themselves and their families. To help stem the tide of unemployment, President Franklin D. Roosevelt proposed legislation that would create the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a public work relief program that gave these unemployed men an opportunity to work manual labor jobs that helped conserve and develop natural resources throughout the country.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was a part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.
The Civilian Conservation Corps was a part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was part of the New Deal, a series of economic programs presented by Roosevelt to stimulate economic growth during the Great Depression. Between 1933 and 1942, the Civilian Conservation Corps employed more than 3 million young men and quickly became one of the most popular, if not the most popular, program associated with the New Deal. As a member of the Civilian Conservation Corps, a young man might find himself reforesting damaged areas, taking part in erosion control or flood control, fighting forest fires, planting trees, restocking rivers, and other activities that were aimed at helping maintain and control wild lands throughout the United States.

The men who took part in the Civilian Conservation Corps were unemployed and usually receiving some sort of government relief. African American minorities made up a large part of the CCC, and an entirely separate division of the CCC was created for Native Americans. The CCC not only helped young men find work, it also improved morale throughout the United States. In the latter part of the 1930s, however, the CCC was repurposed and came under the control of the Federal Security Agency, thereby losing its non-military image. As the 1940s approached and the war effort began, fewer and fewer young men were available to take part in the CCC because they were being drafted instead into the military. By 1942, funding for the CCC ceased, and most resources were funneled toward the war effort.

An indirect result of the Civilian Conservation Corps was a renewed attention to the wilderness in the United States by the general population. After the Civilian Conservation Corps was disbanded in 1942, the program left a lasting legacy that would be renewed by other groups later in history, such as Americorps and a variety of conservations corps that now exist throughout the United States. These groups are dedicated to the preservation and protection of wildlife and wild areas throughout the U.S.

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