Civilian Conservation Corps Legacy
"Passing the Legacy to Future Generations"  

Northwest Youth Corps

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Northwest Youth Corps (NYC) is a non-profit organization, which provides opportunities for youth and young adults to learn, grow, and experience success.
 
Northwest Youth Corps’ legacy of youth development began in 1984, another tough economic period. With youth unemployment at the time as high as 50%, NYC’s goal – in the spirit of the original Civilian Conservation Corps – was (and remains) to educate and engage disconnected young people and teach them important life skills, while improving the natural environment.  NYC uses a combination of service, training, education, and employment opportunities to help youth and young adults protect, restore and enhance public lands and waterways throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Northern California. 
 
More importantly, NYC helps young people gain important personal and professional skills needed to become the future workforce and educated and active citizens.  In addition to a paycheck, NYC participants can earn high school credit, and/or an AmeriCorps educational award for their successful experience.  Since 1998, Northwest Youth Corps has also operated an on-site high school, now called the Twin Rivers Charter School, which helps Lane County students graduate with a 24-credit high school diploma. 
 
During its 34-year history, Northwest Youth Corps has had several opportunities to work on Civilian Conservation Corps-era projects, while giving NYC crewmembers a chance to learn historic preservation skills. During a period of nearly ten years the CCC existed, nearly 28,000 Junior, Veteran, and Native American Oregonians served in the CCCs.
One of NYC’s signature projects is at Silver Falls State Park, the largest state park in Oregon. In 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced that Silver Falls would be one of his largest Recreational Demonstration Projects. The park – located twenty-six miles east of Salem – is comprised of 8,700 acres, a 22-mile multiple-use trail system, and a fifty-two-cabin Trickle Falls YMCA Youth Camp.
 
The cabin cluster, built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the CCC, typified the CCC developments erected across the country. Most of those cabins and lodges are now gone, due to neglect, or to make way for newer structures.  
 
Beginning in the late 1990s – as part of a first-of-its-kind, state-funded historic preservation project –NYC crews worked at Silver Falls State Park to rebuild and reroof the tiny Trickle Falls cabins as well as completed other projects, such as the reroofing of the lodge.
 
Since Silver Falls’ properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places, NYC crews had to learn historic preservation techniques needed to carry out these projects – splitting shakes for the new roofs, and constructing new wood blocks, sill logs, and rafters upon which the renovated cabins sit – using only hand tools in existence in 1938, such as froes.
 
Sometimes the cabins had more damage than originally noted. In some case, the roofs had begun to rot – covered as they were with Douglas Fir needles and moss – while, in other cases, the cabin had been partially crushed by a wind-blown tree. To find the high quality, close-grain wood needed for such repairs, the crew went into the nearby forest with state park staff, found the perfect tree, felled it, bucked it, brought it back to camp, and peeled off the bark, before using the log to replace a rotten roof beam or rafter. The crew also made patches called "half-laps," where a rotted end of a structural beam is removed, and then replaced with an equivalent amount of over-lapping good new wood.
 
Said (then) NYC participant (and current NYC Field Director) Jeff Olson, as relayed in an Oregon Quarterly article at the time which featured the project, "I feel like we're locking a piece of the past into the future. I understand that these cabins are not going to slip away because of the work we're doing…Most people don't take the time to see how something went together, so they don't realize how important it is to save it."
 
Other more recent projects that NYC crews have worked on at Silver Falls include the construction of a 66’ long footbridge (including approaches) using “stringers” felled by the crews and manipulated into place by hand without the use of mechanized equipment; maintenance of 13.5 miles of trail including the construction of 216 drainage structures and 137 feet of retaining walls; restoration of hiking trails that had been overrun by six acres of noxious weeds; and thinning of two acres of trees. Just last year (2017), at Silver Falls, crews worked on the south Perimeter Trail and Rackett Ridge Trail. This project was the result of last year’s ice storms which brought down trees, which in turn took chunks out of the trail or left huge root wads in the middle of the old trail tread. In order to ensure the trail’s future sustainability, the crew constructed several rock retaining walls of various dimensions, created drain dips, and realigned and graded the trails to improve drainage, ensuring that they will last for years.
 
Elsewhere in Oregon, NYC crews have also worked on trails and brushing around buildings constructed by Depression-era workers at Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon, and on nature trails connecting the CCC-era Camp Cleawox and a group camp on Woahink Lake on Oregon’s spectacular central coast. Work done by NYC crews at Crater Lake this year included creating a new three foot wide trail, some passing nearby culturally significant areas, as well as working on an old and out-of-commission trail by hauling rock and soil material, tread widening and grading, and turnpike construction.  
 
Because Oregonians continue to enjoy the products of the hard work of Oregon's CCC members at parks and forests around the state, and because the CCC's ethic of service inspired the creation of Northwest Youth Corps in 1984, NYC was honored to work with the Oregon Governor's Office in 2006, to officially recognize and honor the Oregon Civilian Conservation Corps, through a proclamation issued by the Governor, establishing August 3, 2006 to be Oregon CCC Day and encouraging all Oregonians to join in this observance.
 
NYC is proud to thank its many project sponsors whose partnerships allows our crews to continue the proud legacy of campground, trail, and bridge construction and other forestry and soil erosion prevention work that were the hallmark of the CCC, while they provide our crews with a valuable opportunity to develop the technical skills needed to maintain and restore the Northwest’s historical and cultural heritage.
 
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