watch: pbs documentary on the civilian conservation corps
In March 1933, within weeks of his inauguration, President Franklin Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress aimed at providing relief for unemployed American workers. He proposed the Civilian Conservation Corps to provide jobs in natural resource conservation. Over the next decade, the CCC put more than three million young men to work in the nation's forests and parks, planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires, and maintaining roads and trails, conserving both private and federal land.
The CCC was President Roosevelt’s answer to the environmental and economic challenges facing the country during the height of the Great Depression. Enlisting 250,000 workers in just two months, the CCC was an ambitious undertaking that brought several government agencies together. The Department of Labor recruited men from the ages of 18 to 25; the War Department clothed and trained them for two weeks, and the Department of Agriculture designed and managed the specific work assignments.
After planting three billion trees in nine years of service, the CCC dissolved in July of 1942. President Roosevelt’s attempt at turning it into a permanent agency failed, yet the legacy of the CCC continues to live on in the hundreds of campgrounds, hiking trails and swimming holes still enjoyed by Americans today. In The Civilian Conservation Corps, four alumni Corpsmen share their experiences of poverty, racism, hard work and brotherhood from their time in the CCC, the tale of one of the boldest and most popular New Deal experiments.