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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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F. National Park Service Activities Relating to Park, Parkway, and Recreational-Area Study, 1936-1941

Shortly after the passage of the Park, Parkway, and Recreational-Area Study Act in June 1936, the National Park Service commenced a number of special studies and activities that would serve as adjuncts to the recreational survey. The studies included an examination of the progress of the municipal and county park movement in the United States between 1930 and 1935, research in aviation and other modes of travel in relation to recreational planning, and preliminary work for an extensive survey of world parks. [38]

The "Municipal and County Parks in the United States 1935" was completed by October 1937 and published the following year. The study was conducted in cooperation with the National Recreation Association and consisted of data collected from 1,216 cities and 77 counties in every state. The data was compared with material gathered in the same field in two previous studies made by the National Recreation Association in 1925-26 and 1930 to ascertain the extent to which the state and local park system had expanded during the preceding decade. [39]

By June 1937 a three-volume digest of laws relating to state parks was compiled and made available to park and conservation authorities. As a result of this study, a set of principles was developed for incorporation into new state legislation relating to parks and recreation. Concurrently, a compilation of state laws relating to archeological issues was also prepared. [40]

Over the next three years, a CCC staff lawyer, Roy A. Vetter, expanded the digest to include all laws relating to local parks and recreation activities in every state and the territories of Hawaii and Alaska. The Digest of Laws was published in 1940 to fill the need for a reference source to the state and local laws and ordinances relating to park and recreational development. [41]

As part of the recreational study, the National Park Service began publication of a volume, entitled Yearbook--Park and Recreation Progress, in 1937. The Yearbook was designed to disseminate progressive thought on park and recreation conservation policies and activities and to serve as a clearinghouse of information and discussion on the nationwide park and recreation movement. After its enthusiastic reception by federal, state, local, and civic leaders in the park and recreation movement in 1937, the National Park Service determined to make it a regular annual publication. Following an editorial policy established after publication of the 1937 edition, the annual volumes, which were published through 1941, contained numerous articles by leaders in the park and recreation field outside the federal government on such subjects as legislation, administrative organization, planning, and facility development. The volumes also contained articles and discussions on current thought and trends in park and recreational planning and development by Park Service personnel. [42]

Another significant Park Service publication that served as an adjunct to the recreation study was the three-volume work issued under the principal title Park and Recreation Structures in 1938. Prepared by Albert H. Good, a landscape architect in the Washington office, the publication was printed in three parts: "Administration and Basic Service Facilities," "Recreational and Cultural Facilities," and "Overnight and Organized Camping Facilities." Each volume discussed structural undertakings appropriate to natural park and recreational area environments both in the national and state park systems complete with drawings, plans, and photographs. The volumes were designed to provide data to the many persons involved in ECW and public works projects who had little expertise in constructing park facilities. [43]

One of the outgrowths of the recreational study was the increasing involvement of the Park Service in providing consultation to states interested in establishing interstate compacts to administer recreational areas. Beginning in 1936 some states, in consultation with the National Park Service, undertook consideration of facilitating joint regional action in administering and developing park and parkway areas where mutual interests and benefits were involved. New York and New Jersey had jointly created the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. At the request of Missouri and Illinois, the Park Service began providing professional and technical assistance in the formulation of plans for establishment of an interstate compact to administer and develop Alton Lake and adjacent lands and a proposed interstate parkway leading to the lake. During the same period the Appalachian Trail Conference had referred to the Park Service its proposal for an interstate compact to protect and develop the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia. [44]

Later in 1938 the proposal for a national Mississippi River Parkway from the headwaters of the Mississippi in Itasca State Park, Minnesota, to the Gulf of Mexico was a direct outgrowth of the recreational study. Nine of the ten states bordering the Mississippi River sponsored the proposal and each appointed a parkway planning commission. By 1940 six states had enacted legislation enabling them to cooperate with the federal government in the planning and development of the parkway, and bills authorizing a survey to determine a suitable route for the parkway were pending in both houses of Congress. The Park Service favored the bills in principle, but took the position that definite action should await the formulation of a national plan for parkways. [45]

During fiscal year 1941 the National Park Service initiated recreation studies in New England as well as in the central-southeastern region of the United States which comprised the Tennessee and Cumberland river watersheds. Concerning the growth of regional studies, the Park Service annual report noted:

During the development of individual State plans, it became evident that certain problems could not be met adequately within the limits of State boundaries. Each State plan has to consider existing and proposed facilities in adjoining States within reasonable distance of its borders, as well as nearby residents in adjacent States who may visit its park and recreational areas. Consideration also has to be given to outstanding recreational resources such as mountain areas and bodies of water that are of more than State significance. It is expected that regional studies will enable State and Federal agencies to adjust their individual programs to effect proper coordination. [46]

The Park Service also extended its cooperation with the states to include new services in the late 1930s. Together with the Corps of Engineers, state planning commissions, and conservation districts, it aided in planning "proper recreational use of lakes and pools created by flood-control projects." The Park Service provided consultation services, research, demonstrations, and information exchanges with state and local park systems relative to legislation, finance, personnel, administration, maintenance, area protection, and program organization policy formulation. One of its primary contributions was the promotion of sound, periodically revised master plans for the development and management of state and local park systems. [47]

Chapter Four continues with...
Postscript to the Park, Parkway, and Recreational-Area Study


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

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