Inisde the Capitol
By JAY MILLER
SANTA FE - How many of you have been around long enough to remember the Civilian Conservation Corps? If you've been around long enough not only to remember, but to have been a part of that corps, you have a 70th reunion coming up on March 29.
The CCC was a Depression-era public works program initiated by President Franklin Roosevelt. It was part of his New Deal economic recovery initiative and it put more than three million young men to work rebuilding and conserving our nation's public lands.
And since New Mexico has more than a third of its land under federal ownership, our state benefited greatly from the work of the CCC. Between 1933 and 1942, more than 32,000 men from the state were enrolled in the Corps. An average of 32 camps operated in New Mexico each of those years.
New Mexico was especially fortunate that the CCC came along when it did. The state had recently created a state park system and CCC workers helped develop these parks at Bottomless Lakes, Conchas, Elephant Butte, Rattlesnake Springs, Hyde Park and Santa Fe River Park. They also did much work on Bandelier National Monument.
New Mexico was fortunate that Clyde Tingley was governor from 1935 to 1938, just as the CCC was reaching its peak. Tingley was a promoter, who already had endeared himself to Roosevelt while working to assure that Route 66 didn't bypass Albuquerque. He used that connection to assure that New Mexico got at least its share of projects.
The New Mexico chapter of the national CCC Alumni Association is looking for as many people who served with the CCC, either here or elsewhere, to participate in a March 29 celebration, recognizing them for efforts, which still benefit New Mexico today. The ceremonies will be held from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., on Saturday, March 29, at the National Park Service Regional Building on old Santa Fe Trail, in Santa Fe. Families are invited too.
The committee planning this special event includes the New Mexico Youth Conservation Corps, the National Park Service, New Mexico State Parks, New Mexico Monuments, New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance, US Forest Service, the state Historic Preservation Office, the state museums, congressional office representatives, the University of New Mexico, the state historian, Boy Scouts of America and the New Mexico CCC Alumni Chapter 141.
All this is being coordinated by Kathy Flynn, who is the executive director of the National New Deal Preservation Association. For further information, she can be contacted at 505-473-3985 or 473-2089. Flynn can be contacted by mail at P.O. Box 602, Santa Fe 87504. Her e-mail address is email@example.com or check her Web site at www.newdeallegacy.org.
The theme for this year's observance is "Continuing the CCC Legacy: Youth Service Then and Now." Information will be distributed about the youth work programs of today that are modeled after the CCC program and continue to carry out that legacy.
Young New Mexico males could work for the CCC program at one of the 32 camps around the state for up to two years. They received food and lodging and $30 a month. That may be where the phrase "Another day, another dollar" came from.
When World War II began, the CCC camps were abandoned and most of the young men went off to rescue our allies overseas. Many of the abandoned camps did not fall into disrepair, at least immediately. As prisoners of war were shipped to this country, beginning in 1943, many of them were housed in former CCC facilities. There were only three main POW camps, but soon many satellite camps were established to house prisoners who were used as farm labor throughout the state.