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American Experience: Civilian Conservation Corps

In March 1933, within weeks of his inauguration, President Franklin Roosevelt sent legislation to Congress aimed at providing relief for unemployed American workers. He proposed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) to provide jobs in natural resource conservation. Over the next decade, the CCC put more than three million young men to work in the nation’s forests and parks, planting trees, building flood barriers, fighting fires, and maintaining roads and trails, conserving both private and federal land.

After planting 3 billion trees in nine years of service, the CCC dissolved in July of 1942. As the economy began to improve in the late 1930s, young men found higher-paying jobs at home, and the number of CCC camps across the country dwindled. President Roosevelt’s attempt at turning the CCC into a permanent agency failed, but its legacy continues to live on in the hundreds of campgrounds, hiking trails and swimming holes still enjoyed by Americans today. In The Civilian Conservation Corps, four alumni Corpsmen share their experiences of poverty, racism, hard work and brotherhood from their time in the CCC. From Producer Robert Stone (Earth Days, Oswald’s Ghost), the film tells the tale of one of the boldest and most popular New Deal experiments.