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The Emergency Conservation Work Act, created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, became commonly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps

PHOTO COURTESY OF BOWMAN MUSEUM - Camp Bear Creek was one of a several Civilian Conservation Corps camps in Crook County.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt was inaugurated on March 4, 1933 in the depths of the Great Depression. He developed a plan to fight against soil erosion and declining timber resources utilizing the unemployed of large urban areas.

He called the 73rd Congress in Emergency Session on March 9, 1933, to hear and authorize his program. He proposed to recruit thousands of unemployed young men, enroll them in a peacetime army, and send them into battle against destruction and erosion of our natural resources. Before it was over, nearly 3 million young men engaged in a massive salvage operation, the most popular experiment of the New Deal. The Emergency Conservation Work Act was approved, and it became commonly known as the Civilian Conservation Corps.

The bulk of young unemployed youth was concentrated in the east, while most of the work projects were in the western parts of the country. The Army was the only agency with the slightest capability of merging the two and was in the program from the beginning.

Mobilizing the nation's transportation system, it moved thousands of enrollees from induction centers to working camps. The Departments of Agriculture and Interior were responsible for planning and organizing work to be performed in every state of the union. The Department of Labor, through its state and local relief offices, was responsible for the selection and enrollment of applicants.

Several CCC camps were established in Oregon with camps under the control of the Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service and the Grazing Administration.

Crook County eventually had four camps established and included Camp Mill Creek, Camp Rock Creek, Camp Bear Creek, and Camp Wiley. Some accomplishments of the Corps included construction of lookout towers, fire road construction, tree planting, building and recreational facility construction, spring developments, trail construction and erosion control projects.

The advent of World War II and more prosperous times led to the abolishment of the program in 1942. The Corps was an extremely popular and successful program.


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