February 04, 2009

National Parks could benefit from economic stimulus

A recent Los Angeles Times article relates the proposed spending on national parks upgrades in the economic stimulus bill to the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) initiative established in 1933.

There were 600 CCC camps in various national parks during the program's 10 years. Yosemite had more than most, with 10 encampments scattered throughout the park, from the valley meadows to the high country and atop El Capitan.

Each camp housed about 225 workers, living in reinforced tents or wooden barracks. Although the park service directed the work projects, the Army operated the camps with daily reveille, chow taken in a mess hall and military discipline.

Not longer after the program began, an educational component was added to train enrollees in job-related skills and address the widespread problem of illiteracy. Some enrollees taught their compatriots to read and write.


Citing the CCC as a model, the parks group is advocating for the development of a National Park Service Corps and estimates that investing stimulus funds in parks would create about 50,000 jobs. The group has studied the economic impact of parks, particularly in rural areas, finding that every dollar spent at a park generates $4 in benefit.

I think this is a fascinating idea and I was very interested to learn about the CCC initiative in the 1930s. It seems to me this could be a good opportunity to create jobs and improve our national parks. What do you think?

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