Times were very desperate. Nationally, youth unemployment in 1932 was 25% and another 29% were working only part-time. So the remedies for the hopeless youths had to be bold. A new agency, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), was to be “a catalyst. Through it, a new and vital president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, brought together two wasted resources, the young men and the land, in an attempt to save both” wrote CCC historian John A. Salmond. Nationwide, over a nearly ten year period, over three million young men renewed forests, fought soil erosion and the Dust Bowl as well as built infrastructure in the nation’s state and national parks. Over 30,000 Colorado men gained employment and new job skills. And work was completed in nearly every county in the state. CCC work was made to last. Today we still use many of the roads and trails they built. Nearly fifty years of conservation and recreation work were accomplished in Colorado making that period the most productive in the state’s environmental history. Indeed, the accomplishments on public lands by the C.C.C. and other New Deal agencies, have never been duplicated.
Robert W. “Bob” Audretsch retired as a National Park Service ranger at Grand Canyon in 2009 after nearly 20 years of service. Since then, he has devoted himself full time to research and writing about the Civilian Conservations Corps (CCC). Bob grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Wayne State University where he received a BA in history and a MS in library science. Bob has a lifelong interest in history, nature, books, and art and has written numerous publications in the fields of library science, sports, and history. Bob is the author of Grand Canyon’s Phantom Ranch (Arcadia Publishing, 2012), Shaping the Park and Saving the Boys: The Civilian Conservation Corps at Grand Canyon, 1933–1942 (Dog Ear Publishing, 2011), We Still Walk in Their Footprint: The Civilian Conservation Corps in Northern Arizona, 1933-1942 (Dog Ear Publishing, 2013), Selected Grand Canyon Area Hiking Routes, Including the Little Colorado River and Great Thumb (Dog Ear Publishing, 2014) and with Sharon E. Hunt The Civilian Conservation Corps in Arizona (Arcadia Publishing, 2014). And The Civilian Conservation Corps in Colorado, 1933-1942, Volume 1, U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Indian Affairs Camps was published by Dog Ear Publishing in 2017. His historical books have been reviewed as “meticulously researched” and “well-organized.” His future projects include a history of the CCC in Wyoming. He resides in Lakewood, Colorado.