On-line Book

Book Cover
A Brief History Of The National Park Service




National Park Idea

Early Growth

NPS Created






Plans and Design





Historic Conservation

Land Planning

State Cooperation


Work Camps

Recreation Study




Antiquities Act

Organic Act

Historic Sites Act

Recreational-Area Programs Act



Recreational Demonstration Areas

A new type of recreational facility came into being in the recreational demonstration areas, in the development of which the Service is turning land unsuited to agricultural or industrial purposes into areas for recreation and enjoyment for millions of people of the large population centers. Until August 1, 1936, when development of the 46 projects in 24 states was turned over entirely to the Service by the President, the program had been carried out by this Service in cooperation with the Resettlement Administration which had handled the phase of land acquisition. Under that arrangement the Service had the job of developing the recreational facilities on the areas. Now, however, the entire program rests with the Service for acquisition of land and development of facilities.

Recreational demonstration areas are wholly Federal Government projects. In these areas, many of which are among the finest woodland and mountain tracts in the country, organized camps are being built for boys, girls, and family groups. Central dining and recreation halls are provided, and each camp is laid out in several units, each consisting of a unit lodge, unit latrine, and sleeping cabins for staff and campers. In addition, portions of these areas are held as wildlife sanctuaries, and other portions of them are developed for day use of the general public. With the exception of a few, the recreational demonstration areas may eventually be turned over to the states for administration.

Work Camps

On December 1, 1935, the National Park Service entered into an agreement with the Work Projects Administration under which the Service assumed responsibility for planning and technical supervision of the work programs of 41 Work Projects Administration work camps. The program was undertaken at the request of state, county and municipal agencies sponsoring the camps, and with the concurrence of the WPA. The work provides for an extension of the services rendered to states, counties and municipalities by the Service in the coordinated and planned development of recreational areas for public use and the conservation of natural resources. On August 1, 1936, through an order by the President allocating funds direct from the relief appropriation for the operation of these camps, this program was transferred entirely to the control of the National Park Service, and the camps are now known as National Park Service Work Camps.

Recreation Study

The most momenteous piece of legislation in recent years affecting the park and recreation movement was a direct result of the activities of the Service outside the Federal field demonstrating the effectiveness of Federal and state cooperation in related conservation and recreation work. This was the Park, Parkway and Recreation Study Act, approved by the President June 23, 1936. The Act authorized the Park, Parkway and Recreational-Area Study which is now being made cooperatively by the states and the National Park Service, and gave the consent of Congress to any two or more states to negotiate and enter into compacts or agreements with one another with reference to planning, establishing, developing, improving and maintaining any park, parkway or recreation areas. Such compacts or agreements shall be effective when approved by the legislatures of the several states involved, and by Congress. It further provides that "for the purpose of developing coordinated and adequate public park, parkway, and recreational-area facilities for the people of the United States, the Secretary (of the Interior) is authorized to aid the several States and political subdivisions thereof in planning such areas therein, and in cooperating with one another to accomplish these ends." It is stipulated that such aid shall be made available "through the National Park Service acting in cooperation with such State agencies or agencies of political subdivisions of States as the Secretary deems best." Thus was Federal and state cooperation in park and recreation work placed on a permanent basis.


The Service further extended its influence in the field of public recreation when the Secretary, on February 4, 1937, authorized establishment of the United States Travel Bureau. This Bureau cooperates with the states and with the travel industry in coordinating sources of travel information for the public, for the purpose of stimulating travel to and within the United States. It is hoped that legislation will be adopted by Congress setting up a National Travel Board, composed of American experts in the field of travel promotion, to recommend policies for the Bureau's activities.

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