The Regional Review

Volume V - No. 1

July, 1940

The CCC and National Defense


When the CCC was begun in 1933, there was a tremendous amount of conservation work to be done in parks and forests and on farm and grazing lands. Forests had been burned or cut over, land had been over-cultivated or over-grazed. They began to take on new life through the work of the Corps. Scars on the face of Mother Nature, caused by years of human improvidence, began to disappear. An army of 300,000 young men moved over the land bent, not on a wartime mission to destroy, but on a peacetime mission to build.

Huge amounts of work have been done in planting trees, restoring burned over areas, protecting our forests from fires, and making them a generally more habitable place for wildlife. National Park Service and Forest Service camps were among the first established and it was from these that we got our first measure of the value of the CCC as an instrument of conservation.

It is hard to say which of the objectives of the Corps is the most important. Job training of youth certainly is a worthy enterprise if we are to maintain a nation with equal opportunity for all. No work is more important to our national defense than the making of able, responsible citizens. Certainly the reclaiming of huge areas in the midwest and far western states that had been over-grazed and overfarmed will pay out to future generations many times the money spent on them. And by their reclamation we have stored up a reserve of productive land on which to call in a national emergency. The restoration of our timber lands was talked of for many years before those youngsters came off the streets of our cities and towns and from our farms and did something about it.

Now a new objective has been added to the program of the Corps---the training of men for specialized work in connection with national defense. The task of converting the Corps into a unit making the maximum contribution will not be a difficult one. All of us know that the CCC has been doing, and doing well, most of the things which we now are being called upon to do as a national defense contribution. This means, so far as the Corps is concerned, not the entering of a new field but an intensification of efforts already under way. For seven years the Corps has been contributing to national defense by increasing national health, by building up natural resources wealth, by teaching skills to enrollees, and by giving millions of youngsters opportunity to become better and more useful American citizens.

We are equipped and have the man power to carry out a broad program of intensive training in such fields as automotive and aviation mechanics, cooking and baking, road and bridge building and maintenance, map making and surveying, radio and telephone communications, and other fields which require a large number of skilled men in wartime. In the 1,500 camps of the Corps, there are 150 major types of work, which, for purposes of training, may be broken down into about 300 different occupations. Each camp offers between 30 and 75 occupations for training. It is on this framework that we are building our national defense training program.--- Adapted from addresses delivered July 11 at College Park, Maryland, and July 12 in George Washington National Forest.

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Date: 04-Jul-2002