Are We There Yet?

By Keith Kloor | March 5, 2009 1:13 am

This book review pays tribute to the Civilian Conservation Corps. Westerners–particularly Coloradans–might be surprised to learn that their favorite hiking trails and scenic drives owes to this depression era-program.

As Kurt Repanshek over at National Parks Traveler writes, the $920 million carved out in the stimulus package for National Park improvements is a “nice chunk of change.” But it also

pales when compared to the $2.25 billion that the House of Representatives, under the urging of Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Washington, inserted into its version of the bill, and falls far, far shy of the estimated $9 billion maintenance backlog carried by the National Park Service.

  • Hank Roberts

    One good reason for reviving the CCC — for making trails in back country, people with hand tools do better work for longterm use.

    I learned this from rangers in the Cascades in Washington, when planning a 2-week solo hike, back in the 1970s.  The maps available showed all the trails ever built — and the rangers carefully marked for me the ones built by the CCC with picks and shovels, saying those were stable and could be trusted to actually be there. 

    They flagged trails shown on the map that had been build later, using dynamite, saying the dynamite saved a lot of time and money making the trails, but fractured the rock to such a depth that after a while big stretches had crumbled away completely.

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About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, and an adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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