National park backers call for creation of a service corps similar to the Depression-era CCC

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The economy was a shambles. Millions of Americans were out of work. Saying something drastic needed to be done, the newly elected president announced a massive economic stimulus package aimed at repairing the nation's sagging infrastructure and putting people back to work.

The first "emergency agency" established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt was the Civilian Conservation Corps, which eventually put 3 million men to work in the national park system.

By the end of the program in 1942, CCC workers had built scores of bridges, constructed flood-control projects, cut 97,000 miles of fire roads and planted 3 billion trees, prompting the nickname "Roosevelt's Tree Army."

The rustic, rock-and-timber buildings and massive lodges constructed by highly skilled artisans are now famously part of the national parks' visual style, often referred to as "parkitecture." In parks such as Yosemite -- where an unusual number of projects were undertaken -- the CCC's imprint remains.

Now, some in Congress and elsewhere are reaching back to embrace Roosevelt's Depression-era strategy by calling for a similar parks restoration program to be included in President Obama's economic stimulus plan. The House version of the bill has $2.25 billion earmarked for projects in parks. The Senate version is still under debate and expected to be voted on Monday.

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Randll Reese Besch - 2/6/2009

Because the same bad ideas have put us into this mess once again.

Our infrastructure in need of repair and upgrade once more too.