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NPS Expansion: 1930s







New Deal



NPS 1933-39




Expansion of the National Park Service in the 1930s:
Administrative History

Chapter Four: New Initiatives in the Field of Recreation and Recreational Area Development
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B. The National Park Service Enters Recreational Planning and Development Field

During the 1930s the National Park Service responded to the growing demands for recreational opportunities by taking the lead in the specialized fields of national recreational planning and recreational area development. Because of its expertise and experience in park planning, the agency greatly expanded its consultant services and cooperative relationships with the states in recreational land-use planning and development, thereby playing a significant role in the growth of the emerging state park and recreation systems. [7] Furthermore the National Park Service secured enactment of the comprehensive Park, Parkway and Recreation-Area Act of 1936 and initiated four new types of federal parks areas--recreation demonstration areas, national parkways, national seashores, and national recreation areas. [8]

The participation of the National Park Service in the fields of recreational planning and development stemmed in large part from the widened responsibilities assigned to the bureau under the Emergency Conservation Work (ECW) program and other relief programs beginning in 1933. Federal cooperation was extended to the state, county, and metropolitan governments for the development of park and recreation area facilities through the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and relief funding in April 1933. In that month various bureaus of the Department of the Interior, including the National Park Service, were assigned the responsibility of providing technical, professional design, and planning supervision to work projects of the CCC. The National Park Service was designated to supervise the work of the Corps not only in areas of the National Park System but also in state, county, and municipal park and recreation areas in cooperation with the governing bodies having jurisdiction over those areas. [9]

When the CCC program was commenced in April 1933, the Park Service's Chief Forester, John D. Coffman, was called to Washington from Berkeley to take charge of the program in the National Park System and act as the liaison officer for the various bureaus of the Department of the Interior. Later that year, when it became apparent that the state and local park CCC work supervised by the Park Service would develop into a large program, a separate organization was established with Assistant Director Conrad L. Wirth, Chief of the Branch of Planning, in charge of the State Park ECW program. The new organization was similar to that for the National Park System under Coffman, complete with professional capabilities for the planning and supervision of all phases of work operations. At its peak the State Park ECW organization had administrative oversight of 483 CCC camps employing nearly 100,000 enrollees and consisted of a technical and professional staff numbering several thousand. In January 1936 the general administration of ECW activities in the National Park System was consolidated with the administration of the larger State Park ECW program under the newly-created Branch of Planning and State Cooporation headed by Wirth. [10] The responsibilities of the branch were as follows:

Supervision over the compilation of data covering advance planning for the national park system; coordination with the State park and recreational authorities and State planning commissions and other agencies; supervision over Federal participation in State park and recreational activities, including Emergency Conservation Work; and the conducting of a continuing recreational survey in cooperation with National Resources Committee. [11]

Chapter Four continues with...
National Park Service Participation on the National Resources Board


Last Modified: Tues, Mar 14 2000 07:08:48 am PDT

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