National Parks

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First CCC workers in front of the Bryson City, NC park office. The CCC planted trees, built park structures and fire towers, created trails, and performed landscaping that has shaped what the National Parks are today.

At the height of its operations, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), a driving force in the expansion and improvement of the national park system, employed some 300,000 workers. Members of the CCC engaged closely with efforts to protect natural resources and conserve the American natural environment by combating soil erosion, building fire roads, creating trails in national parks, and planting 3 billion trees over the agency’s nine year lifespan.

FDR was himself a nature enthusiast and a proponent of conservation. During his tenure as president, he moved to improve and expand the existing National Parks Service. At the recommendation of National Park Service director Horace Albright, Roosevelt added 20 military parks, historic battlefields, and monuments (including Mount Rushmore and the Statue of Liberty) to the Park Service’s network. He also created several new national parks, including Isle Royale National Park, Joshua Tree, the Dry Tortugas, and the Channel Islands. These parks, and the improvements made to the National Park Service as a result of the New Deal, still endure, attracting visitors from the US and abroad.