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The National Parks Evolving Role of Conservator and Concessionaire. The idea of a National Park. Until the late 19 th century the concepts of a public park revolved around a “pleasure garden”.
Until the late 19th century the concepts of a public park revolved around a “pleasure garden”.
Vauxhall Gardens was a pleasure garden, one of the leading venues for public entertainment in Kennington, near London from the mid 17th century to the mid 19th century.
Vauxhall Garden 1751
1852 Congress established the Hot Springs Reservation in Arkansas (which became a national park in 1921), set aside because of the medicinal qualities believed to be possessed by its waters.
Yellowstone National Park created by law in 1872 as “a public park or pleasuring-ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people.”
1890 Congress “reserved” Yosemite, General Grant, and Sequoia National Parks in California as National Parks
1899 Established Mount Rainier National Park
1849 Department of Interior established. Patent Office, Indian Affairs, Geological Survey, and other insular affairs transferred to new agency
Lacey Act of 1900 Fish and Wildlife Service. Established the Department of the Interior as the federal agency responsible for the government’s role in managing fish and wildlife; also placed controls on interstate shipment of game.
Forest Service Act of 1905 Forest Service. Created the U.S. Forest Service as the managing agency of the National Forest Reserve.
National Park Service Act of 1916 National Park Service. Created the National Park Service as the managing agency of the areas in the National Park System.
Historic Sites Act of 1935 National Park Service. Broadened thee president’s power to add historic sites to the National Park System by proclamation.
Conservationists of the utilitarian school, who advocated the regulated use of natural resources to achieve “the greatest good for the greatest number;” championed the construction of dams by public authorities for water supply, electric power, and irrigation purposes.
While utilitarian conservation had become well represented in government by the U.S. Geological Survey (established in 1879), the Forest Service (1905), and the Reclamation Service (1907), no comparable bureau spoke for park preservation in Washington.
1913 the city of San Francisco sought and received permission from Congress to dam HetchHetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park for its water supply in the first decade of the 20th century.
In 1914 Mather complained to Interior Secretary Franklin K. Lane, a fellow alumnus of the University of California at Berkeley, about the mismanagement of the parks. Mather and Albright blurred the distinction between utilitarian conservation and preservation by emphasizing the economic potential of parks as tourist meccas.
Mather hired his own publicist and obtained funds from 17 western railroads to produce The National Parks Portfolio, a lavishly illustrated publication sent to congressmen and other civic leaders. In August 1916 Congress passed and Wilson signed the legislation creating the National Park Service
“The twin purposes of the establishment of such an area as a national park are its enjoyment and use by the present generation, with its preservation unspoiled for the future.”
Education is a major phase of the enjoyment and benefit to be derived by the people from these parks and an important service to individual development is that of inspiration.
Recreation, in its broadest sense, includes much of education and inspiration. Even in its narrower sense, having a good time, it is a proper incidental use.
The national parks are essentially noncommercial in character and no utilitarian activity should exist therein except as essential to the care and comfort of park visitors.
The welfare of the public and the best interests of park visitors will be conserved by protective permits for utilities created to serve them in transportation, lodging, food, and incidentals.
1. Simple, understandable interpretation of the major features of each park to the public by means of field trips, lectures, exhibits, and literature.
2. Emphasis upon leading the visitor to study the real thing rather than to utilize second-hand information. Typical academic methods are avoided.
3. Utilization of a highly trained personnel with field experience in geological and biological sciences able to interpret to the public the laws of the universe as exemplified in the parks, and able to develop concepts of the laws of life useful to all.
4. A research program in the natural sciences which will furnish a continuous supply of dependable facts suitable for use in connection with the educational program and for guidance in shaping National Park Service policy.
The first new battlefield park to be authorized was Monocacy, scene of an 1864 Civil War engagement in Maryland but the lands were not donated as expected, and Congress had to reauthorize their acquisition with appropriated funds in 1976 to make the park a reality.
Civil War battlefield parks in Virginia at Richmond, authorized in 1936, and Manassas, designated in 1940, were more readily achieved.
Congress authorized Saratoga National Historical Park, New York, in 1938 to commemorate the pivotal Revolutionary War battle there.
Parkways—elongated parklands containing carefully designed and landscaped limited-access roads intended for recreational motoring rather than high-speed point-to-point travel. Parkways of this type originated in Westchester County, New York, during the second decade of the 20th century.
Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Colonial Parkway, providing a 23-mile scenic drive between Jamestown
and Yorktown, Virginia, was the first federal parkway outside the national capital area. It was authorized in 1930 as part of Colonial National Monument.
Blue Ridge parkway authorized in1933
Natchez Trace authorized in 1934
1964 Secretary Udall signed an order that National Parks would contain resources for natural, historical, and recreational activities.
1953 act of Congress had legally defined the National Park System to exclude most areas in the recreational category.
Recreation in the broader sense has always been part of the Park Service mission.
Concepts of multiple use essential to the Bureau of Land Management play a secondary role in the National Park Service.
Agency has become the federal program administering conservation actions of the federal government.
Agency does not have a funding role.
Shared responsibilities with agencies of Department of Agriculture and other agencies in the Department of Interior.