Fort Clatsop
Administrative History
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With its creation as a national park unit in 1958, the site of Fort Clatsop began the evolution from a privately-owned historic site to a functioning unit of the National Park Service. This transition included the establishment of visitor facilities, an administrative staff, and park goals to guide the memorial after the completion of site development. During the first few years of operation, the memorial staff included a park superintendent, a park historian, an administrative staff position, one full-time ranger position, one full-time maintenance person, and one or two seasonal positions. Between 1970 and 1990, the permanent staff grew sporadically, while the seasonal staff grew steadily. Currently, the park supports eleven full-time staff positions and nine seasonal positions.

At Fort Clatsop, management primarily deals with park interpretation, park infrastructure and maintenance, natural and cultural resources, and visitor safety. Historically, management emphasis was placed on the development of interpretation programs, routine infrastructural maintenance, and a reforestation program designed to re-create the coastal forest environment encountered by the Expedition. The memorial has developed a very popular interpretive program, one that includes costumed interpretation at the fort replica and other on-site interpretive locations. This program has received tremendous budget support over the years from the memorial's cooperating association, the Fort Clatsop Historical Association (FCHA), allowing it to develop a full range of in-depth interpretive programs. Visitation grew consistently, from the opening of the visitor center in 1963 to 1991 when visitation leveled out at approximately a quarter of a million annual visitors. Increased visitation, at levels higher than site development planning had anticipated, resulted in an emphasis of management and budgeting on facility and parking maintenance and improvements.

During the site development process, a site concept was developed for the memorial, one which stressed the historical setting of the fort replica. Developments of the 19th and 20th centuries around the site had reduced the once dense forests encountered by the Expedition. In 1958 when the memorial was created, second-generation tree growth still existed around the site. However, approximately one-quarter of the land acquired contained open meadow areas. The memorial's reforestation efforts, carried out by the maintenance division of the park, targeted the restoration of the open field spaces, the screening of the interpretive sites from modern improvements, and supplementation of second-growth areas around the site with native vegetation.

The foremost legislation guiding the park is the 1916 Organic Act, which created the National Park Service as an agency under the Department of the Interior and provided for the preservation and public enjoyment of America's national parks. The 1935 Historic Sites Act also guides park management, providing for the preservation of American historic sites and antiquities under the management of the National Park Service. The Historic Sites Act also mandates that the NPS provide proper interpretation of and access to these sites for the public. The Antiquities Act of 1906 and the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 (as amended), as well as subsequent legislation regarding historic preservation, cultural resources, and the NPS, also guide management decisions. The memorial must also adhere to the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and other subsequent environmental laws. Park management must also adhere to the memorial's enabling legislation and subsequent amendatory legislation. NPS objectives cover administration policy in all areas of park management, from interpretation to law enforcement to natural resource management.

The following is an overview of the memorial's superintendents and highlights their decisions in all areas of park needs. From 1958 until 1960, a planning team initiated the development process for the memorial through lands identification and needs assessment. This site development is the subject of chapter five of this document. Specific management areas will be discussed in more detail in the following chapters.

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Last Updated: 20-Jan-2004