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The California Conservation Corps, or the CCC, is a department of the government of California, falling under the state cabinet-level California Resources Agency. The CCC is a work development program specifically for men and women between the ages of 18 to 25, offering work in environmental conservation, fire protection, land maintenance, and emergency response to natural disasters. Members of the CCC are referred to as "corpsmembers" or "corpies."

History

The California Conservation Corps was created by Governor Jerry Brown on July 7, 1976, modeling the corps after the federal Civilian Conservation Corps that existed during the New Deal in the 1930s. Brown envisioned a department marketed specifically to the state's young people as "a combination Jesuit seminary, Israelimarker kibbutz, and Marine Corps boot camp." The CCC replaced the California Ecology Corps that was created by Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971 as an "alternative service" option for Conscientious Objectors during the Vietnam War.

Following the end of his governorship, Brown's successor, George Deukmejian, signed legislation to eliminate the CCC's sunset clause by making it a permanent department under the California Resources Agency in 1983

Since beginning operation in the late 1970s, the CCC has employed over 95,000 young male and female corpsmembers with 54 million hours of conservation work. 6,402 miles of trails throughout the state have been constructed and 3.2 million trees have been planted.

The duties of operation falling to the CCC include trail maintenance, riparian zone restoration, tree planting and exotic plant species removal, or construction and roadside maintenance in more urbanized regions. Benefits for "corpies" include vocational training in cooking, office work, chainsaw and vehicle maintenance and the opportunity to receive a high school diploma. Scholarships for higher education are also available through the number of work hours performed and community volunteerism made.

Praise and budget cuts

The CCC has received praise from the United Nations Environment Programme, earning the international organization's medal for leadership in engaging youth in environmental projects. The corps has also received awards from the U.S. Department of Energy. On a visit to Sacramentomarker on October 4, 1988, President George H. W. Bush suggested that the CCC should be duplicated in other states.

Despite high praise from federal and international institutions, since 1992, the California Department of Finance has continuously allotted less funding to the CCC, forcing the closure of numerous residential centers throughout the state.

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