The Civilian Conservation Corps, proposed by President Franklin Roosevelt, operated nationwide between 1933 and 1942. it provided outdoor employment for 2.5 million young men working out of nearly 3,000 camps. The camps of 200 men each were supervised by the United States Army and the work projects by the departments of Agriculture and Interior, in cooperation with the state. At individual camps the CCC hired LEMs ("locally experienced men") to work as craftsmen and teachers, and professional architects and engineers to provide design assistance and construction supervision to enrollees. To be an enrollee, a young man was required to be seventeen to twenty-five years of age and from a family on relief. The pay was thirty dollars a month, of which twenty-five dollars was sent directly to the family. Veterans of World War I were also eligible and were housed in separate camps.
At its peak in Texas the CCC operated camps with a capacity of 19,200 men. Assignment to states was random, so workers in Texas came from all over the country. Although most camps were devoted to soil-conservation and erosion-control projects, about twenty-five were responsible for the development of state parks. The average CCC enrollee in Texas was twenty years old and served two six-month terms. Participants performed heavy, semiskilled, outdoor labor; most worked on seeding, sodding, planting trees, banking slopes, or building roads and small dams. The enacting statute for the CCC forbade discrimination based on race, color, or creed. Still, the 200,000 black enrollees were often segregated, especially in the South. The CCC offered participants a variety of activities in addition to work. The young men could enroll for classes in camp or in local high schools or colleges and earn educational credits from the elementary to the college level. They could also participate in a sports program that often included baseball, football, and track.
The CCC declined as the economy recovered; the advent of World War II brought prosperity and new priorities, and in the summer of 1942 the program ended. Nearly 50,000 Texans were enrolled in the CCC between 1933 and 1942. They left behind significant physical improvements to forest and farmland and passed on soil-conservation information to more than 5,000 farmers. In addition, CCC work in Texas was significantly responsible for development of the state's park system and its architectural legacy. Of the fifty-six state parks established through CCC efforts, thirty-one are still in existence, including Bastrop, Davis Mountains, Garner, Goliad, and Palo Duro Canyon state parks. Several CCC city and county parks also remain in Texas.