Recreational Use of Land in the United States
PRESENT EXTENT AND USE OF PUBLIC LANDS FOR RECREATION
1. FEDERAL LANDS
Functions.The primary function of the National Park Service is to provide an administration for national parks, monuments, and reservations with the objects of preserving their scenery, natural and historic objects and wildlife, and of providing for the public enjoyment of the same in such manner as to leave them unimpaired for the future.
The Executive order of June 10, 1933, greatly increased the work of the National Park Service by transferring to it (with certain exceptions) the parks, monuments, cemeteries, and memorials from the War Department, national monuments from the Department of Agriculture, and, further, increased its primary functions by charging it with the administration of public parks within and contiguous to the District of Columbia and (with exceptions) public buildings, both within and outside the District, and the duties and responsibilities of the former Public Buildings Commission, including control and allocation of space.
Scientific Data Available.(a) There is careful planning in the subdivision of land uses within each park and monument, and master plans are used to control development in such manner that proper use of each class of land will be assured.
(b) Systematic surveys are made of the many new locations that are constantly being proposed for national park or monument status and for addition to existing parks. An adverse report of such investigation frequently carries a recommendation as to suitability of the area for inclusion in a State park system.
(c) Responsibility for the supervision of Emergency Conservation Work on State, county, and metropolitan parks and recreation areas is vested in the National Park Service. This has resulted in close association with all parks planning activities throughout the country.
(d) The National Park Service is further invested with authority to select the submarginal lands and prescribe the development thereon within the scope of the Submarginal Lands Acquisition Program where these are to be used for recreation purposes.
Relations to Other Federal Agencies.There are formal cooperative agreements with the Bureau of Public Roads, Bureau of Fisheries, Bureau of Entomology, Bureau of Plant Industry, and the Public Health Service whereby specialized advisory services are rendered to the National Park Service. The Bureau of Public Roads actually carries on road construction, and the Bureau of Fisheries maintains and operates fish production plants in the parks.
Advisory assistance from other Federal bureaus is sought informally as the occasion demands. In addition there are local cooperative agreements such as those between certain parks and adjacent national forests for fire protection.1
History.The first national park, Yellowstone, was set aside by Congress in 1872 for the dual purposes of protection and use. Other areas were later withdrawn for similar purposes, and it became an unwritten policy that public-domain areas of outstanding scenic value should be retained in public ownership as national parks.
The national parks, from the first, have been administered by the Department of the Interior. The National Park Service was established by act of Congress in 1916 as a bureau of the Department of the Interior for the administration of these areas. The organization of the bureau was effected the following year. At that time there were 16 national parks, 1 of which has since been abolished, and 1 has been reclassified as a national monument.
The early national parks comprised public domain which had been withdrawn from entry. All of the early national parks were located in Western States for the reason that the public domain existed only in those States.
Later the policy was expanded to permit the establishment of national parks on areas of outstanding scenic value which might be returned from private to public ownership. In general, Congress has adopted the policy that such lands should not be purchased with Federal funds, but that suitable areas may be established as national parks, provided they are deeded, without cost, to the Federal Government.
In 1906, Congress passed "an act for the preservation of American antiquities", authorizing the President to set aside, as national monuments, areas of special interest or value for scientific, prehistoric, or historic purposes.
The following is an extract from the act (Public, No. 209):
For 18 years, Yellowstone was the only national park in the world, and its origin and early history are therefore the origin and early history of the national park movement.
In 1932, Hon. Louis C. Cramton made a study of the early history of Yellowstone National Park, including its exploration, its establishment in 1872, and its hater history. The following extract from Mr. Cramton's work summarizes the first 25 years of Yellowstone's history with particular reference to the development of existing policies:
Policy.The establishment of national parks was, for a long period of time, governed by an unwritten policy, indicated by the action of Congress. Some areas were established as national parks and other areas were rejected, without any written specification as to what qualifications were requisite. It came to be understood that superlative areas, of national value, are eligible to be established as national parks.
In 1918, when the National Park Service had been in operation for 1 year, Secretary Lane prepared a statement of policy for the guidance of the service, from which the following extracts are taken:
Other statements of policy have been made since that time, one of the most complete being the following, which was approved by the Director of the National Park Service in 1932:
Various organizations that are interested in recreation and conservation have taken a keen interest in the policies governing the establishment and administration of the national parks. For example, the Camp Fire Club of America issued a small pamphlet entitled "National Park Standards", which has been adopted or endorsed by 37 other organizations.
Inventory of National Park System.Prior to 1933 the areas administered by the National Park Service were classified under only two designations, national parks and national monuments. The Forest Service administered a number of areas classified as national monuments. The War Department administered a number of areas, two of which were classified as national parks, several as national monuments, and others as military parks, battlefield sites, cemeteries, and miscellaneous memorials. An area at Morristown was established in 1933 as a national historical park and placed under the administration of the National Park Service. Since the Executive order of June 10, 1933, became effective on August 10, 1933, the areas administered by the National Park Service have included the following classifications:6
6 Editor's note: See Book Four, section on National Park Service, for National Capital Parks System.
The total area of the principal groups is as follows:
The total area administered by the National Park Service, exclusive of Alaska and Hawaii, comprises 9,288,610 acres, or approximately 14,513 square miles.
The national parks have been set aside primarily because of superlative features which are of great national value. Some of the chief features that are represented, and examples of parks containing these features, are as follows:
The national monuments and areas of other designations may be classified as historic, prehistoric, and scientific. Various subclassifications, and examples of areas containing these features, are as follows:
All of the national parks and monuments are sanctuaries for wildlife, and several of them are noted for the species that may be seen. Yellowstone National Park is widely known as a wildlife sanctuary because of its buffalo, elk, black bear, grizzly bear, mountain sheep, antelope, and other species. Mountain goats are found in Glacier and Mount Rainier National Parks. Elk are numerous in Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone Parks. Moose are found in Glacier, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone Parks. Mount McKinley is celebrated for its Dall sheep and caribou.
The forested areas of the national parks are not lumbered, but are kept in their primitive condition. There are notable forests in several of the national parks. Big trees (Sequoia gigantea) are found in Sequoia, General Grant, and Yosemite National Parks. Yosemite and Sequoia also have outstanding forests of sugar pine, ponderosa pine, and numerous other species. Mount Rainier has splendid forests of fir and cedar.
Mount McKinley National Park contains the highest peak in North America. Mount Whitney, the highest peak in continental United States, is on the boundary of Sequoia National Park. Death Valley National Monument includes spectacular desert scenery, with interesting exhibits of plant and animal life, together with the lowest land elevation on the continent. Carlsbad Cavern is unduplicated in the United States. Hawaii has the most active volcanic area within the Nation's possession. Grand Canyon is a stupendous example of the power of erosion.
National parks offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities, including opportunity for many outdoor activities as well as features that are inspirational and educational in character.
In the appendix, pages 250 to 251, will be found two statistical tables containing a list of national parks, national monuments, and areas with other designations, administered by the National Park Service. These tabulations show for each reservation the State in which it is located, area, the special characteristics of the reservation, detailed information regarding its establishment, extent of development, and other data.
Administration and Development.At the time of the organization of the National Park Service the volume of travel to the national parks was small, totaling less than one-half million people. As the use of automobiles increased and as the national parks became more widely known, they became more and more the destinations for vacation trips. In the 3 years from 1918 to 1921 the number of visitors to national parks increased from one-half million to a million people. In the next 5 years the number of visitors increased to nearly 2 million. The 5 years following brought the park travel to more than 3 million persons by 1931. During 1932 and 1933 the depression caused a decrease in travel, but in 1934 the total had again risen and reached a new record of 3-1/2 million visitors. The travel to national parks showed a steady increase every year from 1918 to 1931, and the present indications are that future years will show further annual increases.
Figures are not available for the travel to all of the national monuments, but the annual travel to certain national monuments from 1927 to 1934 is shown graphically on the accompanying chart (fig. 23). This travel has increased from less than 400,000 persons to more than 800,000. These figures do not include travel to the national monuments formerly administered by the Forest Service or the areas formerly administered by the War Department.
The development of facilities for visitors to national parks has increased with the increase in travel, but in many cases it has lagged behind the actual needs. The extent of the development in the various national parks varies with the volume of travel to the park, and with the character of the area.
The Government builds and maintains the roads and trails, ranger stations, museums, quarters for employees, free public campgrounds, and facilities available to the public without charge.
In general, the hotel and restaurant accommodations, transportation, and other services for which a charge is made, are provided by privately owned companies operating under a franchise or contract with the Department of the Interior. Such franchises provide for the operation of hotels, lodges, motor camps, automobile transportation lines, stores, and similar facilities necessary or convenient to the public.
The operating companies make annual reports to the Department; their books are audited by the National Park Service; and the rates charged are subject to regulation by the Department.
At one time it was the practice for each park to collect an automobile license fee from automobiles and other vehicles entering the park. This revenue was at first available for expenditures in the park, including maintenance of roads. Legislation now provides that these fees, and all other park revenues, be turned into the Treasury as miscellaneous receipts. The automobile license fee has been continued in most of the older national parks, though the scale of charges has been reduced. In a number of the newer parks no such fee is collected. This fee varies in different parks, ranging from 50 cents to $3 per car, and is approximately proportionate to the number of miles of road in the park.
The fee applies to the vehicle and not to the passengers. The permit issued is an annual one, and no further charge is made for additional trips during the year.
In Carlsbad Caverns National Park a fee is collected from each visitor for guide service through the cave.
In general it is the intention of Congress that the national parks should be available for public use, and it has not been expected that they should be self-supporting. Exceptionally, however, as in the case of Carlsbad Caverns National Park, the revenues collected exceed the expenditures.
Public utilities, such as water supply, sewer systems, power plants, and telephone, are furnished by the Government in some instances, and by the operators in other instances.
The policy of development in national parks is that the areas shall remain as nearly as possible in their original condition, and that buildings and other construction shall be limited to those facilities necessary or desirable for the needs of the public. No building may be constructed, either by the National Park Service or by operators, except upon plans approved in advance by the Director. Utility buildings are kept out of sight of public travel or in locations as inconspicuous as possible. The type of architecture of public buildings is not standardized, but is chosen to blend harmoniously with the surroundings. Special attention is paid to road construction, in order to avoid unnecessary scars.
The Government constructs roads and trails in the national parks and monuments in order to serve the visitors and to make the principal features of the areas accessible. In the national parks and monuments the road systems comprise a total of 2,049 miles of road, of which 1,764 miles are in national parks and 330 miles are in national monuments and other areas. The trail systems comprise a total of 5,145 miles of trail, of which 4,999 miles are in national parks and 146 miles are in national monuments and other areas. The telephone systems owned by the Government in these areas comprise 2,313 miles of line, of which 2,260 miles are in national parks, and 53 miles are in national monuments and other areas.
Nineteen museum buildings have been constructed. In seven of the parks, museum exhibits are housed in headquarters buildings. Museum displays have been developed in at least six of the national monuments, and a number of new projects are proposed. Most of the museum buildings have been constructed with donated funds.
Development work in national parks and monuments has included, in areas of historic and archeological importance, the restoration of portions of existing structures in order to prevent extensive deterioration and loss. Some of the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde have been strengthened, and partially reconstructed in order to save portions of the structures. Similar work has been done at Montezuma Castle and several of the national monuments whose chief feature is archeological remains.
The work of preserving and restoring historical structures has been accomplished in a number of the historical national monuments. At Wakefield, the birthplace of George Washington, a building has been constructed, illustrating, with as much accuracy as possible, the type of home in which George Washington was born. At Yorktown, the Moore house has been remodeled to put it in approximately the same condition as it was at the close of the Revolutionary War.
The administration of each national park is in charge of a superintendent, who reports to the Director of the National Park Service. In each park the personnel is organized into a number of departments. The ranger department is responsible for the protection of the park and its visitors. It consists of a chief ranger, assisted by the permanent rangers and by temporary rangers, who are usually employed for the summer season. The naturalist department is responsible for the informational and educational services; it consists of a park naturalist and temporary ranger naturalists. A park organization usually includes a clerical department, engineering department, sanitary department, electrical department, mechanical department, and other functions. The organization of the different parks varies with the number of personnel and with special activities which may be carried on, appropriate to the character of the area.
The administrative organization of national monuments is similar to that of national parks, though often on a smaller scale. The custodian is the executive officer. The organization is adapted to fit the objectives for which the area has been reserved.
Field of the National Park Service in Historic Sites.The growth of the field of the National Park Service in the preservation and development of historical and archeological sites, clearly evident in the 60-odd areas now represented in the park program of that Bureau, has come about as a result of the gradual adaptation of an organization to function over a period of years.
In their inception, and for a considerable period thereafter, the methods developed and the agencies used by the Federal Government in handling the problems of national, historical, and archeological sites took diverse and unrelated courses. Beginning in 1890, and extending over a period of 40 years, the activities of organizations of war veterans and private historical societies brought about the development of national military parks, including such areas as Guilford Courthouse, Chickamauga, Gettysburg, Shiloh, and Vicksburg. At the time it did not seem unnatural that these areas should all be placed under the administration of the War Department. But the partial character of this movement and its shortcomings as a national program were revealed in a natural reluctance to take account of sites other than military. Some of the best of our national sites have been passed by or left entirely to unaided private initiative because there seemed to be no Federal agency willing to take the responsibility for sponsoring their preservation and control.
At the same time activities were under way in the field of archeological discoveries. Near the end of the nineteenth century, the Smithsonian Institution undertook some of its earliest and most famous investigations in archeological materials found in the cliff dwellings and pueblos of the Southwest and the mound sites of the Ohio Valley. This work was carried further by such agencies as the National Geographic Society and the Carnegie Institution, and more recently by universities and museums.
Unfortunately, awakening public interest led to the exploitation of many invaluable sites. The necessity for legislation to preserve these, and other irreplaceable areas of historic and archeological interest, became apparent. Thus occurred the first general Federal law in 1906, sometimes called the Antiquities Act, which provided for the creation of national monuments to preserve historic and other scientific areas. Although this act was an important step forward, in the light of experience it proved inadequate to meet the public responsibility involved. The sites which have been preserved under the act came to be administered by different agencies of the Government; in the Agriculture, Interior, and War Departments.
Although perhaps not clearly perceived at the time, the fundamental tendencies looking toward a better governmental administration were more truly indicated when, in 1916, the National Park Service was created for the care and development of national parks, monuments, and reservations of scenic, natural, wildlife, or historic character. To this agency were transferred, at that time, certain historical and archeological sites such as Mesa Verde, then under the general control of the Department of the Interior. Afterward, additional areas were placed under this administration, notably certain archeological areas in the Southwest and such historical sites as George Washington's Birthplace in Wakefield, Va.
In order properly to evaluate and develop this growing program, and to provide machinery for its administration, an important step ahead was taken in 1931 with the appointment of a chief historian within the National Park Service. In the next two years a significant program was developed for the historical areas then under the control of the Service, with a more suitable personnel and a more comprehensive point of view. Already equipped with administrative and technical facilities for dealing with problems of physical development, the National Park Service was now prepared to deal professionally with the historical program, and to develop a more far-reaching policy for the handling of all Federal historical sites.
In 1933, two developments of outstanding importance occurred. One was the transfer to the National Park Service, during the general reorganization of Federal administration, of all historical and archeological sites formerly administered by various bureaus and boards of the Agriculture and War Departments. The second was the creation in the Service of an historical and archeological division to take care of problems relating to these areas.
With 60 national historical and archeological areas now under a single administration, for the first time an adequate and unified national program became possible, stressing preservation and development of an educational philosophy under which national historic sites come to have a definite cultural use.
It was not unnatural that, coincident with these developments, there should come the appointment of the Director of the National Park Service as the representative of the United States on the newly formed International Commission on Historic Monuments.
Authorized Projects.Congress has authorized the establishment of the following national parks and national monuments, when the lands involved have been deeded to the United States, without cost to the Federal Government:
1. Shenandoah National Park project, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Va. Authorized by Congress May 22, 1926. The area involved comprises 521,000 acres, of which 176,420 acres have now been acquired. It is anticipated that the remainder of the area will be acquired, and that the transfer to the United States will be completed within a year. The area was recommended for a national park by a committee appointed by the Secretary of the Interior. The committee was asked to recommend an area in the Appalachian Mountains most suitable for a national park, and instead recommended twothe Shenandoah area and the Great Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. Lands for a considerable portion of the latter have been transferred to the United States.
2. Mammoth Cave National Park project, Kentucky. This area was authorized by Congress May 25, 1926. The area comprises from 35,000 to 70,000 acres of which about 35,000 acres have now been acquired. Establishment of the park was authorized by Congress upon the recommendation of the Congressional delegation of Kentucky. The proposed park includes the historic Mammoth Cave and also several additional caves in the immediate vicinity.
3. Isle Royale National Park project, Michigan. Establishment of this park was authorized by Congress on March 3, 1931. The area comprises Isle Royale in Lake Superior, and a few adjacent smaller islands. This is the home of numerous moose, and primitive conditions prevail in much of the area. Area is approximately 133,200 acres. A local committee has been appointed to acquire the land when practicable, but under the economic conditions that have prevailed in recent years little progress has been made.
4. Everglades National Park project, in Florida, was authorized by Congress on May 30, 1934. The boundaries have not been definitely determined, but the area lies within a region approximately 50 miles square. It may comprise as much as 2,000 square miles, or more than a million acres. The proposed park includes Cape Sable, the most southerly point of the mainland of the United States, as well as a considerable area of the southwestern portion of the Florida Peninsula and neighboring keys. The features of the area are its remarkable bird life, many species of palms, orchids, mangrove trees, and other subtropical plants, and a great variety of fish, including both salt water and fresh water species. The interesting Seminole Indians live in this region, most of which is a primitive wilderness. It is anticipated that the land for the park will be acquired by a State committee to be appointed by the Governor. The area was recommended by a State association, with the endorsement of the members of Congress from Florida and was approved by the National Park Service, following an inspection by the Director and other officers and advisers of the Service.
5. Badlands National Monument project, South Dakota, was authorized by Congress on March 4, 1929. The area involved is approximately 246 square miles, or 157,000 acres. Most of the area is public domain. Options have been acquired on most of the land in the area that is in private ownership. The State of South Dakota has agreed to build certain approach roads, and these will be completed in 1935. The features of the area are delicately tinted, fantastically shaped formations carved by erosion out of the comparatively soft shales and clays. Fossil remains are abundant in parts of the region and are of high scientific value.
6. Grandfather Mountain project, North Carolina. A clause in the Sundry Civil Act of June 12, 1917 (Public, No. 21, 65th Cong.), reads as follows:
No action has been taken under this authority.
7. Palm Canyon National Monument project, California. An act of Congress, approved August 26, 1922 (Public, No. 291, 67th Cong., H. R. 7598), authorized the Secretary of the Interior to establish as a national monument certain lands in Riverside County, Calif., comprising 1,600 acres, provided that the consent and relinquishment, of the land by Agua Caliente Indians shall first be obtained, and that the lands shall be paid for at a price to be agreed upon, with funds to be donated for such purpose. None of the preliminary requirements has been fulfilled. This area is referred to elsewhere as suitable, if available.
8. Monocacy National Military Park project, Maryland. An act of Congress, approved June 21, 1934 (H. R. 7982), authorized the development of this area for park purposes and the preservation of its historical features.
9. Ocmulgee National Monument project, Georgia. Authorized by act of Congress, approved June 14, 1934 (H. R. 7653). Comprises an area of some 2,000 acres in and around Macon and contains Indian mounds of great historical importance.
10. Pioneer National Monument project, Kentucky. Authorized by act of Congress, approved June 18, 1934 (S. 3443). This project embraces four historical points, Boonesborough, Boones Station, Bryans Station, and Blue Licks Battlefield, which is the accredited site of the last battle of the Revolution on August 19, 1782.