SIDEBAR: Montana Conservation Corps

by Michael I. Smith, CFM, Phoenix, Arizona

The Civilian Conservation Corps could rightly be called the parent of a number of modern-day organizations that strive to accomplish many of the same goals lined out between 1933 and 1942; though the birthing has often been a difficult one.

Without the urgency of a national economic crisis on par with the Great Depression, which saw roughly a quarter of the nation’s workforce unemployed, there simply hasn’t been sufficient impetus to replicate the CCC on a national level and some CCC boosters will argue with a fair degree of accuracy that the CCC will never be replicated in any event. Times just won’t be that bad again, folks say.

For that reason, the more successful latter-day manifestations of the CCC exist at the state and local level and Montana is no exception. The Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) (http://mtcorps.org/) fielded its first crew in 1991 and saw its budget double in 1993 when it obtained AmeriCorps funding. Today, watershed restoration, habitat enhancement, trail work and community service are among the project types listed on the organizations active resume, and, although cultural trends have evolved a great deal over the past 80 years or so, the original ethos of the CCC is never far removed from the big picture. Consider, if you will, the comments made by a CCC enrollee in 1934, compared to the comments made by an MCC crew leader in 2016:

I love the woods now and everything in them from the fallen leaf to the tallest tree. I know when I emerge from these surroundings I am a better man in mind, body and soul.
— Joseph Paul Jurasek, a CCC enrollee in Company 956, serving at Camp F-15-M, Coram, Montana in 1934
I’d like to think one day the work I do on Montana’s public lands will lead someone else to realize, like I did, that all good things are wild and free.
— Melanie Hobgood, MCC Field Crew Leader in 2016

But for the space of 82 years, young Paul Jurasek might easily have worked elbow to elbow with Melanie Hobgood, high on some Montana mountainside or grassy glade. Such is the enduring value of planning that considers both the natural and the human resource, don’t you agree?


Sources are found in the main article "Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana: 1933-1942."