CCC gained following for conservation work

By Matt Troll
Special to The Journal

By the end of 1937, the Civilian Conservation Corp had surmounted growing pains and the "great American experiment" had met its stride. A majority of even the sternest adversaries had lessened their objections to the CCC program.

The official number of camps operated in Louisiana was 30 although satellite camps were not normally a part of the count. Fifteen of the main camps were dedicated to soil conservation, seven to national forests, one to state forests, one to state parks, five to agricultural engineering, and one to military construction.

The aggregate number of Louisiana men given employment was 51,820 consisting of 46,597 junior and veteran enrollees and 5,223 officers plus supervisory and administrate personnel. The accomplishments of these men, Roosevelt's Tree Army, were staggering. Over 3,700 bridges were built and 980,986 rods of fences constructed over the state. More than 35 million square rods of channels were cleared.

165,792,000 new trees were planted and 1,510,147 trees and shrubs relocated. The Boys of the CCC spent 100,461 man-days fighting forest fires and clawed out enough fire breaks in Louisiana alone to reach across our nation and halfway back. With hard work centered in the southern parishes, the CCC mounted an effort to control the mosquito population thus lessening the spread

of diseases caused by the insect.

Along with the camp billets and support buildings, the Louisiana enrollees constructed numerous major structures including the log headquarters office building that remains in service today near Woodworth, Louisiana. In the rear of that building stands a fire lookout tower erected by the Corp and believed to be the tallest in the nation.

Over seventy years later and we're still reaping benefits from the efforts of the CCC. The enrollees reforested Louisiana thus replenishing our environment for naturalist and sportsman alike and setting standards for renewable woodland resources. National and state parks carved from wilderness areas are the organic treasures and forest preserves we enjoy today. The financial transfusion from the organization pumped desperate needed revenues in local economies and hometowns across the nation. The Corp took hungry, unemployed youth off the streets and gave them hope and purpose. We can spew out the statistics of what was built and when but we must remember the men also built character. The Boys of the CCC learned to be the Men of the CCC through hard work and dedication. We must also remember the economic impact to the recovery from the Great Depression.

In the next and final article we'll discuss the final days of the Civilian Conservation Corp and the cause of the disbandment of this organization. Also we will highlight the men who proudly served our nation in the CCC.

The Southern Forest Heritage Museum requests that readers who have CCC information or artifacts, please contact the main office at 318-748-8404. All donations will be displayed or cataloged so that future generations can honor the men who served in the Civilian Conservation Corp.