The Forest Service and The Civilian Conservation Corps: 1933-42


This publication concerns itself with the history of the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW), later known as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), and the USDA Forest Service from 1933 to 1942. The history of this relationship is, of course, only one facet of the CCC. Our aim is to illustrate the many dimensions of USDA Forest Service and CCC involvements.

Our research is primarily addressed to Forest Service personnel involved in national forest planning. These personnel include archaeologists, historians, architectural historians, and other land use planners and managers who need technical information of this sort. Students, educators, and other interested individuals may also find the material useful and stimulating. So, too, might those involved at State and local planning levels.

In the 50 years since the establishment of the Civilian Conservation Corps, an enormous amount of its history has been lost. The research represented here is an attempt to retrieve information and to place it in the context of relations between the USDA Forest Service and the CCC. At its broadest, that context ranges over conservation efforts and better prospects for managing the Nation's forest resources, the relief of severe economic problems stemming from the Great Depression, and the involvement of hundreds of thousands of American youth in a hope-fulfilling program in which they would regain self-esteem and self-reliance.

The CCC was not simply born out of need. It involved the translation of visionary solutions to national problems into political and economic realities, the enactment of legislation, and the mobilization of resources. The eventual product was short lived but enormously successful.


Field work for this publication was conducted by Alison Otis and Kimberly Lakin. Thomas Hogg and William Honey assisted in the Pacific Northwest Region of the Forest Service. The principal author is Alison Otis, who drafted the regional overviews, case study chapters, and a portion of the architectural history overview. Kimberly Lakin researched and wrote the handbook portion of the architectural history. William Honey wrote the first two chapters. Editorial efforts were provided by Thomas Hogg, who designed the research activity. Hogg, Honey, and Otis compiled the appendixes. William Robbins was a consultant to the project. Karen Starr served as project manager.

The authors gratefully acknowledge the cooperation and support of the USDA Forest Service including, in particular, the contracting officer's representative, Dennis Roth, and the staffs of George Washington, Coronado, and Mt. Hood National Forests and the district offices. We are especially appreciative of the efforts of Don Wood of Coronado National Forest; Gail Throop of the regional office for Region 6; Gerry Williams of Umpqua National Forest, who provided very helpful suggestions; and Mike McIntyre of Angeles National Forest, who compiled information on extant camp structures.

Juliard Crawford from the National Archives was most helpful and sensitive to our task. So, too, were several members of the National Association of Civilian Conservation Corps Alumni, including ex-enrollee Bill Sharp of Bozeman, MT, and John Irish of Phoenix, AZ, along with others too numerous to mention here. Interviewees cited in the text made valuable contributions by providing firsthand details of the actual human experience of CCC life. Our special thanks to their patient contribution.

We have been greatly impressed by the high level of interest and the positive impression that people have expressed toward the CCC and the national forests in which it served. This report acknowledges the cooperative spirit and enthusiasm of the CCC and the USDA Forest Service personnel in their mutually supportive roles.

Anyone who has researched and written on any aspect of the CCC has a full understanding of the enormous task. This work does not attempt to tell the whole story of the Civilian Conservation Corps and the USDA Forest Service, but it is much more than an initial framework. It is the first systematic attempt to illustrate the degree of initiative of these two Federal organizations and their joint effect on the Nation. We hope no serious omissions were made, and we accept fully the responsibility for mistakes and misinterpretations.

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 07-Jan-2008