The Regional Review

Volume II - No. 3

March, 1939



Robert Fechner, Director of the six-year-old Civilian Conservation corps, invited to present his views during Congressional committee hearings on legislative proposals which would make the CCC a permanent establishment of the government, reviewed briefly the major accomplishments of the organization, pointed out its continuing potentialities as a conservator of human and natural resources, and declared that its present aims constitute the foundations of a never-ceasing national program.

"I whole-heartedly advocate permanency for the Corps," he said, "because I am confident that there are a number of vital considerations which make this a wise action on the part of Congress. These considerations tend to group themselves around two major factors:

"The first of these is the great need for employment and training on the part of a very large number of young men in this country. Broadly, this may be referred to as the conservation of human resources. The second major reason why permanency is advocated is the continuing need for productive and regenerative work on the forests, agricultural lands, streams, parks and other areas throughout the nation. This may broadly be termed the conservation of natural resources. I wish to emphasize strongly that both of these needs seem almost certain to continue over an extended period of years. I believe it is now time for the federal government to take immediate steps which will assure a permanent program designed to conserve national resources of incalculable value. Such a program, organized on a permanent basis, will permit orderly, economic, long-term planning and administration. This work is vital because it is so basic. If these natural resources are not protected and conserved there can be no hope for a future, sound economic life in this country. These basic natural resources are the foundation upon which our whole economic structure is reared. There is enough work to be done in connection with these resources to employ the services of a Corps as large as the present Civilian Conservation Corps for at least 20 years and at the expiration of that time there will continue to be the need for a relatively large group of men to carry on with a similar, never-ceasing program.

"The present act which this bill [under discussion] proposes to continue as it is now operated provides largely for the employment of young men between the ages of 17 and 23. The total male population in this age group, computed from Census estimates of April 1, 1935, amounts to approximately 8,102,000. From these same figures it may be estimated that each year sees approximately 1,212,000 boys attain their 17th birthday. All of us wish that it could be reported that everyone of these boys was either attending school or was able to step into a job which would permit him to become self-sustaining and perhaps contribute to the support of others. All of us know that such a condition does not obtain. There has been -- and appears likely to continue to be -- a vicious circle for the young man seeking employment. The employer is forced to tell the young man he can't have a job because of lack of experience and the boy can't get experience unless he has a job. The Civilian Conservation Corps has broken and can continue to break this vicious circle."

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Date: 04-Jul-2002