The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was honored at Chicot State Park/Louisiana State Arboretum Saturday, March 14, for the work the organization performed during its operation from 1933 to 1942. The ceremony was held at the arboretum’s new visitor’s center facility.
The CCC was formed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to provide jobs for young men during the Great Depression and aid in the conservation of natural resources. The CCC operated in every state and was very popular among the general public.
The CCC was tasked with planting trees, building bridges and roadways and forming wildlife conservation areas, some of which later became parks, like Chicot State Park and the arboretum.
The enrollees of the CCC were aged 18-25 and lived in camps under disciplinary rules similar to the military. They were provided with three square meals a day and paid $30 per month for their work. During the time of the Great Depression, many of these young men lived in far worse conditions, so the CCC was a “step up.”
One gentleman on hand for the ceremony was Henry Huval of Breaux Bridge, a 94-year-old former member of the CCC. Huval told his story to others in attendance. His family said it was a happy time for him in his life and he has told them stories of the CCC all their lives.
Huval joined the CCC the first year of its operation, 1933, at the age of 19. He said he enrolled in the CCC to make money for his family in an attempt to keep the bank from foreclosing on his father’s land. When he received his pay of $30 each month, he said he would send $25 home and keep $5 for himself so he could buy ice cream at a local shop. He stated he did not need more money than that because all of his needs were taken care of by the CCC.
Huval, who was one of eight children, said he remembers much of his experiences with the CCC like it was yesterday. He remembered planting rows of trees without any measuring instruments. He said the young men would do their best in spreading out the trees by pacing certain distances before planting another one. Huval stated he lived in a camp and planted trees everyday for approximately three years before leaving the program.
Although Huval did not work in the Chicot State Park area during his time with the CCC, he was honored with a certificate for the conservation he and so many other young American men performed all those years ago.
Representative Bernard LeBas was on hand for the ceremony. He too thanked Huval and all the young men who worked so hard creating areas like the park that so many people enjoy today.
“It was a great program that did tremendous work,” LeBas said.