Letter to the editor: We should revive the Civilian Conservation Corps

Rabbi Joel R. Schwartzman

It is not and ought not be beyond the conceivable that the U.S. could revive the idea of a Civilian Conservation Corps that would engage people to help maintain and preserve our forests.

These past summers have shown us that the systems whereby we have been managing our forests aren’t working. The result is that, for the past few summers, the nation has lost thousands of homes and millions of acres of precious forestland. Toxic wildfire smoke has spread all across the country from the states of California, Oregon and Washington to the East Coast. The prognosis is for the continuation of these devastating firestorm conflagrations. Climate change has exacerbated the problem. Then, too, there is an over-abundance of fuel in our forests. These downed trees and burn scars have created conditions that impact drinking water. Toxic elements have leached into the soil, affecting aquifers and streams. Lead firefighters are telling us that fire seasons are beginning much earlier and continuing much later in the year making firefighting operations nearly a year-round endeavor.

The notion of employing numbers of men and women to better care for our forestland, building huge firebreaks and instituting other conservation measures would save the nation billions in natural resources and enable it to save on air and water quality as well as curb gasses that add to our climate problems. The participants, tested before being selected for the programs, would work part day and learn part day. During the learning segment of the day, they would become students, exposed to basic reading and math skills. This could possibly save a generation from the poverty of poor education and instill a work ethic that would evolve from programs far safer and much different than military service.

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