The CCC on Orcas Island

The national service crew working on Orcas Island today looks a little different than the crew that helped develop Moran State Park.

The Civilian Conservation Corps was a national service program that ran from 1933-1942 and helped build and develop public lands across the country. Today, the National Civilian Community Corps is based off of the traditional CCC but has adapted to meet today's needs.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was a work relief program established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on April 5th, 1933. The New Deal program operated until 1942 and provided a source of work and income for hundreds of thousands of young, unskilled men. Largely considered one of the most successful New Deal programs, the CCC planted more than three billion trees and constructed trails and shelters in 800+ parks in just 9 years. The program is responsible for over half of all reforestation done in United States history. Guided by agencies like the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service, CCC members worked to establish and enhance recreational public lands by planting trees, clearing and maintaining roads, implementing soil-erosion controls, and building wildlife refuges and campground facilities.

In the 9 years it operated, an estimated three million men served with the CCC in some capacity across nearly 3,000 camps. The CCC are largely responsible for the construction and development of Moran State Park, one of Washington’s most visited parks. Crews built over 20 historic buildings for the Park between the 1930s and 1940s, including the stone tower on Mount Constitution, the highest point in the San Juan Islands at 2,409 feet. Signs describing CCC contributions are found throughout the Park. Congress discontinued funding for the CCC in 1942 due to the onset of World War II, but present-day programs share the same model as the original CCC. The National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) was created in 1992 as a branch of the national service program Americorps, employing 18-24 year olds to work for nonprofit and government organizations. NCCC projects usually have an environmental purpose, with service members building trail systems, clearing invasive species, contributing to disaster relief efforts, etc. Around 2,200 members serve with Americorps NCCC every year, and positions are open to both men and women, meaning today’s NCCC service crews look rather different from the military-style men-only CCC camps of the 1930s and 1940s.