Northern Michigan is filled with forests, and when you see patches of red pine trees in perfect rows, they didn’t just appear. It’s because of the hard work by young men about 90 years ago that helped shape Northern Michigans landscape.
“All the work they did put the forest like 50 years ahead, said Hillary Pine, Northern Lower Peninsula Historian of Michigan History Center & DNR.
It all began in 1933 when President Franklin D Roosevelt established the civilian conservation corp as part of his new deal.
It’s a system of camps run by the War Department, and you have to be on government assistance. Pine said that you must be at least 18 years old and be single.
Michigan had approximately 125 CCC camps, more than other states.
This really speaks to the need for conservation here in Michigan, most likely because of the logging age. Pine stated that our forests had been reduced and that our streams were also destroyed.
Each camp had approximately 200 men, all ranging from 17 to 23 years old.
Their goal was fix what was damaged by stocking fish, fighting forestfires and planting trees.
“A lot of these are city boys. They’ve never fought a forest fire. They’ve never planted trees. They find themselves in some difficult situations. A lot of it’s a lot harder than they expected it to be, said Pine.
Each day, young men were expected planting 1,000 tree seedlings.
It’s very methodical. You should follow the three steps. You will use your planting tool to dig the hole, place the tree, and then repeat the process three times. Quick, quick, quick, said Pine.
These rows of red pinetrees make up what we see today.
Our forests throughout the state would look a lot different today in 2022 if it hadn’t been for season CCC forestation in the thirties, said Matt Liesch, Professor of Geography and Environmental Studies at Central Michigan University.
This legacy is very important to the CCC, and it is also important to us as Michiganders. We’re in this state that we enjoy our forests and our outdoor resources. Liesch stated that the CCC was responsible for a lot of this.
The CCC legacy extends beyond what you see. Their legacy continues to influence conservation efforts.
It’s fostered a spirit of conservation that was already existing before the 20th century, but it amplified this conservation effort and made it more mainstream, said Liesch. Conversations about how our interactions with the environment affect the environment and how it influences us are important. Those conversations are useful when we’re trying to tackle complex issues such as climate change, as far as habitat loss and other things.
The Michigan Civilian Conservation Corps estimated that 484 million trees were planted. It is the most in any state.