A Brief History...
Former CCC Director B.T. Collins, left, joins Gov. Jerry Brown and CCC Director Jack Dugan in 1982
The California Conservation Corps is the oldest and largest state conservation corps program in the nation. But it didn't happen overnight. From a small beginning, the CCC has grown to its current size with residential and nonresidential sites throughout the state.
Modeled after the original federal Civilian Conservation Corps created in 1933 by President Franklin Roosevelt, today's California program was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on July 7, 1976. Governor Brown envisioned the program as "a combination Jesuit seminary, Israeli kibbutz and Marine Corps boot camp."
Boyd (Buck) Hornor
(1976-77) was asked by Gov. Brown to head the CCC, coming on board in March 1976 before the enabling legislation was enacted. As the first director, he got three CCC field locations up and running -- Camp Radford in the San Bernardino Mountains, San Luis Obispo and Escondido.
Hornor was followed by LeRoy Chatfield (1977-79). Chatfield opened 18 centers in 18 months and developed corpsmember and staff classifications as well as the CCC uniform and logo. He established the first project guidelines and statewide work goals.
When the irrepressible B.T. Collins became director (1979-81), the former Green Beret coined the CCC's motto: "hard work, low pay, and miserable conditions." He garnered national and international attention for the work of the Corps. Collins was followed by Jack Dugan (1981-1983), who had served as the CCC's chief deputy since its inception.
When Governor Deukmejian took office in 1983, he made the CCC a permanent state department with the elimination of its "sunset clause." Under the direction of Bud Sheble (1983-91), the CCC consolidated various centers and added several dozen nonresidential satellite facilities. Sheble also created the CCC Foundation.
In 1992, Governor Wilson appointed Al Aramburu to direct the program. Aramburu's focus was to make the Corps "bigger and better" through an entrepreneurial approach. Governor Davis appointed Wes Pratt as CCC director in November 1999. Corpsmember development through education, emergency response and conservation work was his focus at the CCC.
Former governors Jerry Brown, Gray Davis and George Deukmejian (along with Pete Wilson, who was unable to attend) join corpsmembers at a Sept. 2010 event honoring the governors' CCC support.
Governor Schwarzenegger saw the CCC at work on many fires and floods. In 2007, he appointed David Muraki as CCC director. Muraki was an early CCC staff member and, in 1979, started the Corps' renowned Backcountry Trails Program, which he headed for 10 years. Muraki served as director for eight years.
In August 2015, Bruce Saito was appointed CCC director. He spent nearly 10 years in the CCC, beginning in 1977, before moving on to the Los Angeles Conservation Corps. He devoted nearly three decades to that program, including more than 15 years as executive director.
Governor Brown, founder of the CCC, is once again governor, and the program celebrated its 39th year of operation in 2015. Corpsmembers work year-round on several thousand projects from two dozen California locations. Since 1976, more than 120,000 young men and women have been a part of the CCC.