Conservation consideration | WORLD


MARY REICHARD, HOST: It’s Thursday, the 1st day of July, 2021.

You’re listening to World Radio and we’re so glad you’ve joined us today! Good morning, I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. First up on The World and Everything in It, government jobs.

In 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt created the Civilian Conservation Corps—the CCC—one of the many so-called “Alphabet Agencies” of the New Deal. The CCC employed 3 million young men over a decade until Congress ended the program in 1942.

REICHARD: The CCC built roads, campsites, bridges, and cabins in state and national parks across the country. Now, President Biden wants to stir up a fresh batch of alphabet soup, beginning with an all-new CCC. WORLD’S Sarah Schweinsberg reports.

SARAH SCHWEINSBERG, REPORTER: In 2012, Nicole Kreiser wasn’t sure what to do. She was studying biochemistry at a small private college in Pennsylvania. But she wasn’t excited about her future.

KREISER: I couldn’t find that career path that I was hoping to find within that major.

She decided to take some time off and move out west to Utah. After a few months, Kresier overheard a group of young people at a coffee shop talking about their work with the Utah Conservation Corps.

KREISER: I met a group of crew members that had just finished up a project week out in the high Uintas wilderness here in Utah. And they were so excited about their project work. I definitely you know, love being outside and hiking and camping, backpacking, things like that were really important to me. Then they recommended that I apply. And so I did.

Kreiser spent the fall clearing trails and removing invasive plants and trees.

She never left. Nearly a decade later, she coordinates Utah’s more than 200 conservation crew members.

Kreiser says the Utah Conservation Corps gives her and thousands of other young people an outlet for love of the outdoors … as well as practical skills.

KREISER: So I think it really teaches folks how to manage dynamics, communication skills, being able to plan logistics, being able to coordinate a crew of people, being able to coordinate volunteers. So it gives also gives our folks an opportunity to be able to, to learn those vital skills.

Today, state-run conservation corps programs carry on the legacy of the original federal program.

Now, President Biden wants to recreate the CCC, but this time it would be called the Civilian Climate Corps. The program would have two goals: mitigate climate change and employ young people.

Biden’s American Jobs Plan includes $10 billion for the program. Eighty percent of that funding would go to personnel. It would pay about $40,000 a year for up to 200,000 workers. It would also provide housing and stipends for clothes, food, and transportation.

The rest of the $10 billion budget would fund climate mitigation projects across the country like clearing undergrowth that can fuel forest fires, planting trees, and creating green spaces in cities.

Melissa Bass is a public policy professor at the University of Mississippi. She wrote her dissertation on the original Civilian Conservation Corp. She says the Biden administration’s CCC has a similar mission and design to the original.

BASS: The men were paid $30 a month. So that’s $1 a day. But it also provided room and board. So for free of cost, health care, and like work supplies, so their boots, their uniforms.

Bass says although the original CCC did a lot of valuable work throughout the country. Congress didn’t renew the massive program because it was no longer needed. The country was mobilizing for World War II, and jobs were plentiful.

BASS: There were questions of should we still have a big national government program, when there is not an issue with high unemployment. So it really was seen as a jobs program.

And that’s exactly how some labor experts see this new proposal.

Rachel Greszler is a labor policy scholar at the Heritage Foundation. She…

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