Modeled after a Depression-era state work/conservation program that FDR developed while he was governor of New York, the CCC provided much-needed employment to jobless young men while preserving the country's natural resources. At the program's peak, over 2,000 camps in all 48 states employed over 3 million men working at environmental jobs. At first, only men ages 17 to 23 could enroll; later, the age limit was raised to 28. After the Bonus Army campaign of 1933, separate CCC camps were created for veterans -- with special duties assigned for these 40-something "elders" based on their physical condition.
All CCC camps provided housing, food, clothing, medical care, and education (including reading classes for the illiterate) to participants in the program. CCC enrollees were paid $30 per month, $25 of which had to be sent back to their families. Of the $5 the men could keep for themselves, $1 went into a fund for coupons with which they could buy supplies at the camp canteen.
CCC members were nicknamed “Roosevelt’s Tree Army,” “Tree Troopers,” “Soil Soldiers,” and the “3-Cs Boys.” CCC projects were planned and supervised by the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture and included over a hundred different kinds of work. Nationally, the 3-Cs Boys planted over 3 billion trees, created more that 800 parks, developed over 28,000 miles of hiking trails, and built over 47,000 beautiful stone bridges and innumerable stone walls still evident throughout the country. The CCC also preserved forty million acres from erosion, including reforesting land destroyed by the Dust Bowl (see the image above).
In 1942, with most of the 3-Cs Boys about to serve in WWII, the program was dissolved. The CCC created a landscape that we continue to enjoy today and is considered one of FDR's most successful initiatives.