The Evolution of CCC Conservation
Chapter Two analyzes CCC conservation projects on a national scale, and links the landscape changes caused by such work to both a broadening of conservationist concerns and to Franklin Roosevelt's desire for political support from rural America. It argues that although Corps conservation work appeared haphazard and static, it actually evolved over time and involved two types of labor on a trio of rural landscapes. While the Corps began its work in forests, primarily in the far West, the Dust Bowl of 1934 forced CCC enrollees onto the nation's farms as well, both on the Great Plains and in the soil-eroded South. This first type of conservation work involving both reforestation and soil conservation not only embodied the goals of Progressive era conservationists, who advocated the efficient use of natural resources, but also popularized the New Deal throughout these rural regions. During the late-1930s the Corps expanded its work projects yet again, this time into the country's state and national parks where CCC enrollees built hiking trails, campgrounds, motor roads, and visitor centers to increase public access to outdoor recreation. This second type of Corps work, which echoed the Boy Scouts' desire to rejuvenate Americans through healthful contact with nature, represented a broadening of conservationist ideology beyond the wise use of natural resources to include concern for public health. Chapter Two concludes that the dueling progressive philosophies that influenced Franklin Roosevelt's creation of the CCC—those of the conservation movement and of the Boy Scouts—became physically realized across the New Deal landscape.
Keywords: landscape, forestry, soil conservation, parks, Dust Bowl, national forests, national parks, Hugh Bennett, Soil Conservation Service, Forest Service, Park Service, Civilian Conservation Corps, CCC, New Deal
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