On-line Book
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The CCC and the NPS
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    Brief History of the CCC

    National Park Service Role

    NPS Camps


    Overall Accomplishments



The Civilian Conservation Corps and
the National Park Service, 1933-1942:

An Administrative History
Chapter Four:
National Park Service Arrowhead


The CCC program greatly expanded the role of the National Park Service in the field of recreation. From the start, recreational development had been permitted in state park areas. In the spring of 1933 President Roosevelt authorized the federal government agencies to cooperate with the states in the development of regional recreational areas. In January 1934 Park Service officials held a conference with state park officials to discuss the expansion of recreational facilities in state park areas. This conference helped establish the agenda and regulations for the ECW in state park areas. The NPS became further involved in recreational issues when the president in June 1934 established the National Resource Board and the Park Service was assigned the task of assembling information on recreational needs for the entire country. The results of this research were to be used in establishing recreational demonstration areas-- submarginal lands purchased with Federal Emergency Relief Administration funds and developed by the ECW under the direction of the National Park Service. In 1935 the recreational needs studies were completed in 48 states, and work had begun on 58 projects involving 827,120 acres. [40]

On April 30, 1935, President Roosevelt issued Executive Order 7028 which transferred the land purchase authority from the Federal Emergency Relief Administration to the Department of Agriculture's Resettlement Administration. As part of this arrangement, the recreational demonstration lands were to be acquired by the Resettlement Administration and developed by the Park Service. The majority of these areas were to become state, county, or city parks, with a few considered for retention by the federal government. The philosophy behind the recreational demonstration projects was to provide outdoor recreation for low-income groups. An attempt was made to locate the areas near urban centers; however, a small number of projects were designed to extend Park Service areas such as Acadia National Park, Shenandoah National Park, Kings Mountain National Military Park, Badlands National Monument, White Sands National Monument, and Blue Ridge Parkway. [41]

On August 1 , 1936, the National Park Service assumed complete responsibility from the Resettlement Administration for the development of recreational demonstration areas. The Department of the Interior next sought permission to assume land acquisition authority, which was granted by executive order on November 14, 1936. These recreational demonstration areas included development at Big Bend and Cape Hatteras state parks, which became Big Bend National Park and Cape Hatteras National Seashore. The National Park Service and Bureau of Reclamation cooperated on recreation development projects behind Boulder Dam, which later became Lake Mead National Recreation Area. [42]

The work involved in recreational demonstration areas included conservation of water, soil, forests, and wildlife resources, and creation of public recreational facilities such as roads, trails, dams, cabins, park structures, swimming pools, and picnicking and camping facilities. In Sequoia, Yosemite, Mount Rainier, General Grant, Rocky Mountain, Crater Lake, and Lassen Volcanic national parks, the CCC helped to start and develop winter sports facilities. [43]

Recreation work in NPS areas continued in 1937. In the western parks the CCC worked on ski jumps, ski trails, ski runs, ice skating rinks, and toboggan runs; in eastern parks, campsites for trailers were opened in such places as Shenandoah National Park. The main thrust of recreational development was done in state parks and recreational demonstration areas.

By 1938 one of the more unusual recreational projects was underway at Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Here CCC enrollees conducted archeological and paleontological salvage projects in the area to be flooded by Boulder Dam. The CCC created a series of temporary beaches at Hemenway Wash within Lake Mead Recreation Area, which had to be rebuilt over the years as the reservoir filled. Once the lake reached its maximum level, permanent beach facilities were constructed and the area was landscaped with trees, grass, and flowers. In conjunction with this project, the CCC constructed a landing field in Boulder City so the public could take scenic flights over the lake. Other recreational facilities included bathhouses, floating boat docks, trap shooting areas, and horse and hiking trails. [44]

Also by 1938 the CCC work in constructing winter sports facilities had resulted in an increase in visitation of three to four times the 1933 level in some national parks. Since park staffs found it difficult to maintain these facilities, this task became the responsibility of the CCC. [45] Robert Fechner commented on the program:

New facilities or at least greatly increased facilities for sports and especially for winter sports have resulted from Civilian Conservation Corps work. Today many of the National Parks offer an attractive winter sports program that compares favorably with the best that Europe has to offer. [46]

Besides the winter sports program, the CCC continued to work on trails, campgrounds, picnic areas, and other recreational facilities inside and outside national park areas. Some of the recreational demonstration areas were added to the national park system. These areas included today's Catoctin Mountain Park, Prince William Forest Park, and land adjacent to Manassas National Battlefield Park and Hopewell Village National Historic Site. With the termination of the CCC program, the National Park Service sought to dispose of the remaining recreation demonstration areas. The final dispersal of these sites to federal, state, county, or local governments was not completed until after World War 11. [47]

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