Officials of Bass River State Forest, New Jersey's first state forest, are recruiting former members of the Civilian Conservation Corps to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the program, one of the most popular initiatives created by President Franklin Roosevelt to address the Great Depression. The anniversary will be celebrated June 8 at the 28,000-acre forest, which spans Burlington and Ocean counties.
The CCC attracted hundreds of unemployed men to South Jersey to help conserve the state's natural resources, according to historian Dan Campbell, who has written about the New Deal program. It ran from 1933 to 1942 and was eventually enlarged to provide educational instruction to over 400,000 illiterate enrollees. By the time the CCC ended, over 3 million men had planted over 3 billion trees.
At Bass River, where the program lasted throughout the entire life of the CCC, there was usually a full complement of 200 men at all times, Campbell said. In addition to building paths, bridges, and campgrounds, the corps created the 67-acre Lake Absegami by damming two streams that flowed through the forest.