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Las Tres C

From planting trees to building roads, the Civilian Conservation Corps, known as the "CCC" in the U.S., and as "Las Tres C" in Puerto Rico, engaged in healing the natural environment on a massive scale. Active during the Great Depression, the CCC was established in 1933 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his New Deal program, in an effort to put people back to work, while improving public lands.

In Puerto Rico, "Las Tres C" adapted to the local needs and conditions, employing single men between the ages of 19-21, recruited from rural and urban areas throughout the island. They lived in work camps that they built -- camps of several hundred enrollees were common. Camp life was regimented -- the men lived in barracks, ate in mess halls, woke before sunrise to the call of the bugle, and were assigned to daily work brigades. For many of these young men, this was the first time they had left home, and it provided them with the opportunity to learn a trade, earn a wage (which they often sent home to their economically-stressed families), and experienced a life of camaraderie in often spectacular natural settings.

The CCC is best known for its nationwide tree planting efforts. However, the CCC does not simply plant trees -- it replants entire forests. Throughout Puerto Rico the CCC was active in planting and re-seeding. On the EYNF there was extensive planting of native and exotic tree species within the
5, 600 hectares acquired during this period under the Weeks Law. Plantations were planted at lower elevations in abandoned pasture, logged-over tracts and coffee land. This led to the establishment of a tree nursery at Catalina that supplied the island with seedlings of Mahogany, Teak, Mar, Jana, Moca, Ausubo, Roble and other species.

There are many buildings and facilities on the EYNF built by the CCC, including: the main highway across the EYNF from Mameyes to Rio Blanco (PR 191); almost the entire trail system; the work center and ranger residences at Sabana and El Verde; El Yunque Pavilion; Palma Sierra and Palo Colorado Picnic Areas; Mt. Britton and El Yunque Peak Towers; Ba Grande and Ba de Oro bathhouses and pools; and the research center in El Verde. Most of the recreation infrastructure on the EYNF was built during this brief period.

"Las Tres C"; was active throughout the island, not just on the EYNF, which includes the Luquillo Unit (El Yunque), and the Toro Negro Unit in Jayuya/Orocovis. "Las Tres C" was active on many other of Puerto Rico's Forests -- in Maricao, Guavate, Sus, Guica, Pines, and others, including Mona Island.