By Jeff Todd

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – After proposing a 21st Century Civilian Conservation Corps, U.S. Congressman Joe Neguse got a history lesson at Red Rocks Park on Monday.

“The Civilian Conservation Corp played the critical role in building this masterpiece. I think a lot of folks aren’t aware of the deep history,” Neguse said.

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U.S. Rep. Joe Neguse (credit: CBS)

The remnants of the original Conservation Corp Camp have been restored by Denver Mountain Parks which now calls the property home. Neguse toured the site alongside some top officials in Denver city government.

Neguse has proposed a new version of the corps that would help create jobs while starting to improve forest health and maintenance on public lands.

(credit: CBS)

“It worked before and it can work again,” Neguse said. “It’s a long time coming in terms of getting some of these projects funded. To employ a whole new generation of folks to work in our public lands address high unemployment in our communities, but also to address the unmet needs in our public lands and public places.”

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Neguse says the pandemic has only emphasized why a new corps is needed.

“It’s very labor intensive, but there’s such a desperate need,” he said. “There are projects across the country, perhaps not as beautiful as red rocks but perhaps just as important.”

(credit: CBS)

Ten billion dollars in federal spending has been proposed for a modern corps. Neguse says he’s hoping to hold a field hearing at the CCC camp site in Red Rocks to try and show other legislators how the previous version helped build vital infrastructure in the 1930s and can be done again.

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“This is a top priority, and we intend to fight as hard as we can to make it a reality,” he said.

Jeff Todd