Soil Conservation Service
The successful demonstration during the period September 1933 to April 1935 increased the support for a national soil conservation policy and program. When the act of April 27, 1935, created the Soil Conservation Service in the U. S. Department of Agriculture, Congress provided more funds and the new Service expanded its operations nationwide. In fiscal year 1937, SCS supervised the work of an average 70,000 enrollees occupying 440 camps. Ninety percent of the camps worked not on a watershed-based demonstration project but in a 25,000 acre work area. As local communities began organizing soil conservation districts and signing cooperative agreements with USDA in 1937, SCS began supplying a CCC camp to further each district's conservation program. During the life of CCC, SCS supervised the work of more than 800 of the 4,500 camps. African-American enrollees worked in more than 100 of those camps.
CCC Indian Division
SCS also supervised work by Indian CCC enrollees on the Navajo Project area, which was composed of the Navajo and Zuni reservations and the Pueblos. The Indian CCC, which was initially designated the Indian Emergency Conservation Work (IECW) and after 1937 the Civilian Conservation Corps-Indian Division (CCC-ID), differed significantly from the CCC operations on the public and private lands. At the request of Commissioner of Indian Affairs John Collier and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved a separate Indian CCC on April 27, 1933. The CCC had a goal of organizing camps of 200 to 250 men. The Indian CCC could establish smaller camps and in some cases establish family camps.
In fact, camps were not required in the in CCC-ID as some enrollees lived at home and traveled daily to the work site. All enrollees were Indians. The employees of SCS and the Bureau of Indians Affairs (BIA) were combined into the Navajo Service. In this working arrangement, SCS employees supervised many Indian CCC enrollees on the Navajo Project. On other reservations, BIA supervised the work alone.
The experience for both SCS staff and the enrollees, provided SCS a trained technical core of workers for years to come. Former enrollees joined the staff and during the early years, CCC funds provided for nearly half of the agency's workforce. In addition to contributing to the passage of the Soil Conservation Act of 1935, the CCC also was instrumental in helping the soil conservation district movement get a healthy start. When the states began enacting soil conservation district laws in 1937, it came as no surprise to the SCS field force that the first districts were organized near CCC camp work areas. CCC's real contribution, however, lay in proving the feasibility of conservation. The positive public attitude associated with CCC work, including soil conservation, helped to create an atmosphere in which soil conservation was regarded, at least in part, as a public responsibility. Your contact is NRCS Senior Historian J. Douglas Helms, at 202-720-3766.
Navajo CCC workers build a diversion, Navajo Nation, Tuba City, Arizona -- National Archives-College Park 75N-Nav-296CC (click to enlarge)