Administrative History
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Chapter 5:


With its establishment on August 25, 1916, the National Park Service assumed administration of the twenty-one national monuments under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior. As a new federal bureau, the Park Service faced a difficult task in managing monuments. Liberal interpretation of the Antiquities Act resulted in a conglomeration of sites ranging widely in geographical diversity and theme. Under these conditions, the role of national monuments within the newly formed park system remained ill-defined. Leaders of the young agency, Stephen T. Mather and Horace M. Albright, expended most of their energy and the majority of the Service's budget on promoting national parks. To a degree, monuments furthered this goal; those of high scenic caliber were promoted to park status, while others functioned as waysides for tourists en route to the parks. Underscoring monuments' subordinate position, Congress finally allocated funding specifically for the protection of national monuments--ten years after the Antiquities Act. Even then, the allotted budget was paltry. Interior Department monuments received $3,500 to be split among all the areas, barely enough to hire caretakers. [1]

Frequently left to fend for themselves, monuments depended on volunteer custodians to guard and maintain them as best as possible. Paid a stipend of $12 per year for their "labor of love," custodians agreed to build their own quarters, and were chosen because they resided nearby and held some general knowledge of or interest in the reserve. But the presence of these first managers was sporadic, since they held responsibilities elsewhere, and this fact, coupled with the limitations of the agency's mission and funding, caused monuments to suffer from a form of benign neglect. [2]

Changes in station for monuments arrived with changes to the National Park Service in the 1930s, when the federal reorganization of 1933 and the New Deal elevated national monuments from their "secondary status" [3] to a more mainstream position within the park system. By Executive Order No. 6166, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 10, 1933, national parks, monuments, military parks, cemeteries, and memorials were consolidated for the first time under one central agency, the Park Service. Consolidation broadened the bureau's management goals. Diversity, for example, modified the two-category system, to some extent alleviating the "higher or lower" distinction between parks and monuments. New Deal programs also proved to be critical to this outcome, for they added so greatly to the Service's budget that numerous monuments received more attention from the agency, some for the first time. For many Park Service properties, the Civilian Conservation Corps was the most significant of the New Deal programs, contributing essential staffing, planning, and developments necessary to catch up on sorely needed construction and repair work. [4]

Through New Deal support, the Park Service tried to fulfill its dual mandate of comprehensive resource protection and visitor accommodations. Unfortunately, the strides made during the 1930s halted with America's entrance into World War II. Military involvement not only ended New Deal programs but also cut the Service's operating budget from $21 million in 1940 to $5 million in 1943. In similar proportions, the number of full-time employees was reduced and visitation dropped sharply. Visitation briefly rose after 1945, yet the advent of the Korean Conflict led to more lean years for NPS appropriations. When visitation did rise from its nadir of 6 million in 1942 to 33 million in 1950 and then to 72 million in 1960, the NPS System faced new problems. [5]

The exponential rise in visitors found monuments and other areas unprepared for this surge in tourism. Backlogged maintenance and development projects during the war years marked just some of the issues facing Park Service units after years of neglect. Now the same rundown facilities, deemed inadequate in the 1940s, were servicing more than five times as many people. Overcrowding, worn out roads and trails, dilapidated buildings and insufficient funding threatened park resources and diminished the quality of the visit. Overall, a weakened park system was exposed to external threats such as the proposed dam at Dinosaur National Monument in the 1950s. This "crisis" was also symptomatic of the Service's poor relations with Congress. Setting out to strengthen the System's crumbling infrastructure, defend it against external attacks, and renew the agency's independence Director Conrad L. Wirth implemented Mission 66. The decade-long rehabilitation program strove to improve resource preservation, staffing, and physical development for all park units by 1966, the fiftieth anniversary of the Park Service. The end product was a more homogeneous park system, one managed through uniformly high standards. [6]

Mission 66 looked not only to the present but also to the future needs of park areas. Although activities during the 1930s formed a crucial stage in bringing monuments into the mainstream of Park Service management, the execution of Mission 66 helped complete the trend, enabling more active rather than passive management to take the lead in their administration. Thus from rather inauspicious beginnings, monuments have maintained an integral role in the National Park System. [7]


The evolution of Craters of the Moon National Monument's administration has essentially paralleled the systemwide trends within the National Park Service. Relatively small and isolated, the monument existed on the fringe of the System like so many monuments of its time. During its early years, its protection and development were characterized by the second-class status assigned to monuments during the Service's first several decades. Initially funding and staffing were minimal. Budget appropriations went to other, more well-established sites, and caretakers from local communities worked primarily as seasonal volunteers.

In the 1930s, the monument's administration benefited from the completion of some critical improvements carried out, for the most part, through New Deal emergency relief programs. Then, as with other park units, the war years of the 1940s curtailed maintenance and development projects. Visitation rose dramatically in the postwar years. Nationally, the monument was more accessible through highway improvements. And locally, the 1950s and the Cold War brought unprecedented economic and population growth to the region around the monument. [8] National and local trends thus prompted the monument's development strategies to be reassessed. Resource protection and visitor enjoyment required construction of better facilities, roads, trails, and the addition of more rangers. Shortly afterward, Mission 66 inaugurated an entirely new phase in monument administration, correcting past and present management deficiencies, making it possibly the most significant phase in the area's history.

Today, the administration of Craters of the Moon has built upon a long history of managers attempting to fulfill the monument's mission, using the resources at hand. Redevelopment through Mission 66 allowed Craters to the Moon to create a more cohesive administration; it provided the skeletal infrastructure for physical and personnel improvements. Since that period, the scientific and educational goals of the monument's purpose have received greater attention and achieved greater success, with resource management surging to the forefront.


Being the first National Park Service site in Idaho did not bestow any special treatment on Craters of the Moon. Monuments were still the distant cousins of national parks, and areas like Craters of the Moon were geographically distant as well, adding all the more to their administrative isolation. Receiving little Park Service attention and funding, monuments operated with few personnel and often turned to local communities for support, drawing from them volunteer custodians and laborers. Thus this type of self-reliance set the precedent that monuments somehow operated by themselves, and during the 1920s and early 1930s this theme was evident as the Park Service formed the administration for Craters of the Moon. In a period that is often shadowy due to gaps in the historical record, the agency set up the essential elements of Craters of the Moon's administration, providing for the area's management and development, securing a permanent water supply, and addressing the first resource protection issues.

Horace Albright Visit in 1924
Horace Albright inspected Craters of the Moon in 1924; he is in the top row, center, and Samuel A. Paisley, first custodian, is seated, bottom row, far left. (Photo courtesy of Haynes Collection, Montana Historical Society)

On September 19-20, 1924, four months after the monument's creation, Horace M. Albright, superintendent of Yellowstone National Park and field assistant to the director, conducted the first official NPS inspection of the new monument. [9] This first Park Service visit also marked Albright's first trip to the lava country. He arrived in the middle of a fall snow storm over bad roads, accompanied by an entourage of local and state officials, among them Addison T. Smith and Yellowstone photographer Jack E. Haynes. Despite these physical discomforts, Albright found the area to be engaging, albeit absent any staff, facilities, or notable physical improvements. He assessed the site's immediate management needs for protection and promotion, and for road and trail developments in a February 1925 report to Director Stephen T. Mather. [10] Albright approached his task with a degree of caution. However convinced of the monument's importance, he seems to have been all too aware that new monuments placed more burden on an overtaxed Park Service bureaucracy. To help the area in these early stages, especially, might mean syphoning money from Yellowstone's budget, not a popular option. [11]

The general tenor of Albright's report was that the reserve was in no great danger of vandalism or other threats. Only a small part of it was accessible, in his evaluation, and most of the lava specimens were "too heavy to carry away." [12] This judgment countered claims by participants in the monument's creation movement, who exhorted that the sales of volcanic rocks and vandalism were prevalent. Nevertheless, Albright's opinion that the monument was relatively "trouble free" influenced the area's initial management direction, and foreshadowed the opinions of future NPS officials viewing its management requirements.

Certain that Craters of the Moon was in no great danger, the assistant director delayed the appointment of the first custodian until the year after the monument's establishment. Budget restrictions also determined that the Park Service could not afford a caretaker and any formal administration that first year. No monies were allotted to Craters of the Moon from the agency's budget for the 1924 season. By entering the System near the end of one fiscal year, the monument was "penalized" in effect because budget estimates for the 1925 fiscal year were submitted prior to the monument's creation. Due to the budget system, then, the earliest allotment the monument could receive was in 1926. [13]

Even when it received an allocation, it was a meager one. The thirty-two national monuments administered by the Park Service in 1925 all vied for monies out of a lump sum appropriation of $46,980; of this, over half was directed to Carlsbad Cave National Monument in New Mexico. Craters of the Moon's first operating budget was $560, [14] significantly less than Albright's estimates. During his 1924 visit he had told the Arco Advertiser that the Park Service planned to set aside $15,000 for the monument's road and trail construction in 1925, and in a report to the director that September, Albright produced a scheme for a five-year, $35,000-$50,000 comprehensive development program. [15]

Early Map of Craters of the Moon, ca. 1926-26
Craters of the Moon, ca. 1925-26. This early map, probably drawn by H.T. Stearns, shows the first headquarters site and the two-entrance road system.

Meanwhile, despite the lack of funds, Albright secured the first caretaker for Craters of the Moon. Just as it had done elsewhere in the park system, the Park Service depended on individuals from local communities with a concern for and understanding of the reserve to guard it. The monument's first custodian fit this description. Retired and sixty-nine years old, Samuel A. Paisley resided in Arco, cared about the volcanic area, and worked for low wages. Paisley, whose tenure lasted from 1925 to 1927, also represented a prime candidate based on his fourteen years of experience exploring and promoting Craters of the Moon. Albright had met him during his 1924 trip, and upon Representative Addison T. Smith's recommendation, chose him for the job a short time later. Smith believed, as did the assistant director, that Paisley would make a good caretaker because after his long residence in the Arco he "enjoys the confidence of the people...." [16]

Paisley, who wintered in California, was unavailable to work until the following spring, which fit well with the circumstances surrounding the monument's administration. In April 1925, the Park Service offered Paisley the standard $12 per year salary, official stationary, and no operating budget in return for his services. At first refusing such nominal pay, Paisley changed his mind and officially entered office on June 1, 1925. What changed his mind was Mather's decision to bend the agency's rules and permit the custodian to supplement his income by operating an exclusive guide service. Although a conflict of interest was apparent, the director viewed the situation as a temporary expedient. A certain amount of political maneuvering accompanied Paisley's appointment and special treatment. Congressman Smith, pressured by Arco's community leader, Clarence A. Bottolfsen, in turn pressured the Park Service to hire Paisley and allow him to run the guide service. For Mather the deciding factor was news from Smith that "official guides" were setting themselves up in business at the monument, and had been doing so since the time of its establishment. Consequently, the director was faced with an illegal situation and expressed alarm over the possible degradation of Craters of the Moon's resources by unregulated tourist flow in the absence of a NPS caretaker. Hence, Mather authorized Paisley to temporarily operate his business in order to stop these other commercial "parties" and at the same time place the Park Service's "official representative at the monument." [17]

When Paisley retired in 1927, the service ended with him. But his successor, Robert B. Moore, fared better, receiving a higher salary by his retirement in 1931. Like Paisley, who appointed him, Moore came from the Arco area and possessed an equally extensive understanding of the monument, and devoted his time and energy to its management with little compensation. [18] Despite the adversities of low wages and operating budgets, the custodians displayed a strong commitment to the monument's administration. As the sole staff, they performed a variety of functions; they greeted visitors, showed them the main geologic attractions, limited resource destruction by their very presence, created some improvements, and informed the Service about others. Although both Paisley and Moore were in their late sixties and early seventies, and lacked prior Park Service experience and training, they bought the agency time while it planned the monument's development.

The first order of business was to make the monument more accessible to the traveling public. Keeping with its primary focus on building the reputation of national parks and visitation, the Park Service in the Mather tradition at first envisioned Craters of the Moon, not as a destination in itself, but as a "strategic connection with Yellowstone travel." [19] The monument's proximity to one of the nation's "crown jewels" and the anticipated boost in tourism once new highways connecting the two areas were completed occupied the minds of the early custodians and Park Service officials. [20] Any of these advancements would expose the isolated area to greater visitation. Such a prospect thus dictated the type of development that occurred. To attract tourists and promote the importance of the monument, both road construction and the conveniences offered by a concessioner were necessary in the coming years. Craters of the Moon may have been considered a wayside to Yellowstone but it was going to be a well developed attraction. Half of the monument's original budget went toward repair of roads and trails, while the other half went toward the installation of "sanitary conveniences" for men and women. [21]

Improvements evolved slowly, however, given insufficient funding and staffing, and most of the early monument development was self-initiated and self-funded. In 1925 Custodian Paisley, for instance, erected the first headquarters cabin with his own resources, as agreed to when he was hired. Through this dedication and subsequent agency funding the monument's wayside capacity was enhanced so that by 1927 Craters of the Moon boasted several pit toilets and a five-mile loop drive for travelers to see the monument's main attractions. And a rock display case provided the rudiments of an educational program. [22] While major construction for administrative facilities lay at least a decade away, the director approved the operation of a concession, Crater Inn, in 1926 and granted a five-year permit in 1927 to the proprietors Jo G. Martin and John R. Wright, both from Arco. [23]

Visitors at the Big Sink Waterhole
Visitors in the early 1920s drink from Bink Sink Waterhole, one of the monument's few water sources prior to expansion. Custodian Samuel A. Paisley is seated, bottom right. (CRMO Museum Collection)

Perhaps the most important development during the monument's early administration, in terms of its accessibility to tourists, its future management, and survival, was the establishment of a permanent water supply. In the monument's hot, semi-arid, and hostile environment water was vital. For tourists drinking from shallow pools, water softened the monument's extreme climate and enhanced the visit. Without water visitors were less likely to come to the monument or enjoy its volcanic wonders.

Because of this, Paisley implored the Service to secure a better source than Registration Waterhole at the Cinderhurst Camp, the monument's headquarters. Other waterholes existed in the monument, but none was as central or as accessible to visitors as the headquarters waterhole. And it could not sustain any significant increases in use. Visitation in 1925, for instance, climbed to around thirty-three hundred and in 1926 it exceeded forty-six hundred, at which point Paisley informed the Washington office that "the water situation is going to be one of the most serious problems to confront us. While the water at Cinderhurst Camp [sic] has held out remarkably well during the past summer, it is dangerously low now." Paisley, anticipating a veritable flood of visitors, wrote that with "the greatly increased number of tourists who are bound to come next and succeeding years I fear that the present water resources will be inadequate to supply the demands placed upon it." [24]

To remedy future water shortages, the custodian recommended that the Service file for water rights on the Little Cottonwood Creek drainage, located at that time outside the monument's boundaries some two miles north (now the northern unit), so that water from its springs could be piped to the monument. In his 1926 enlargement survey, the geologist Harold Stearns essentially agreed with Paisley. Due to the finite nature of the monument's waterholes and their susceptibility to contamination, Stearns suggested that the Park Service use but not add the drainage's water source. [25] Sensitive to the monument's need for water, the Park Service began investigating the state's statutes for water rights after receiving Paisley's first report. More importantly, the agency dispatched Yellowstone National Park Assistant Civil Engineer Bert H. Burrell to the monument to study the water supply and the present and future physical and administrative development requirements of Craters of the Moon in late June 1927. His report provides one of the few accounts of how the agency's planning strategies took shape at the new monument over a projected five-year period, underscoring the powerful influence of water in management decisions. [26]

Burrell's general assessment of the monument was that it had been "under-rated by the Service" and deserved greater attention from the agency in the form of increased allotments. Echoing the concerns of the early managers, the engineer predicted that with local, state, and national publicity visitation would climb. Visitation statistics from the first two seasons, for example, bore out this assumption. The end product, Burrell believed, would be that Craters of the Moon's already inadequate facilities and management would be pressed beyond their limits to accommodate the growing number of visitors.

This included the overtaxing and swamping of the monument's physical system of primitive roads and trails, and the administrative situation, the latter consisting of an underpaid, undertrained custodian. Under these conditions, both resources and the visitor's experience would be compromised because it was simply "a physical impossibility," he believed, "to properly care for the natural wonders of the region and prevent vandalism." And for that matter, it was nearly impossible to ensure visitor safety in the lava vents, cracks, and caves since there were neither protective devices in place nor adequate personnel on duty to guide or assist visitors. In his recommendations, Burrell stressed that above all it was necessary to cater to the comforts of the tourist, since the monument's facilities were primitive at best, and its landscape, while beautiful, was forbidding. Burrell's four-point plan underscored the need for securing a permanent water supply, providing visitors with camping facilities, widening and grading roads and trails, as well as constructing a basic headquarters area to manage the monument from a centralized location. [27]

Equally notable in his report, Burrell recognized that an adequate water supply was an integral part of most other developments. Slightly revising Stearns's recommendations, Burrell suggested enlarging the monument farther to the north to tap Little Cottonwood Creek's source--the numerous springs near the ridgeline that form the stream's headwaters. And to set the process in motion, Burrell filed on the Little Cottonwood Creek watershed on July 7, 1927. [28]

Before the Park Service could complete any water development plans, however, the main waterhole for Craters dried up. Custodian Robert Moore reported to Horace Albright that on July 18, 1927 the water in Registration Waterhole had disappeared overnight, apparently the result of an earthquake which shook sections of the Snake River Plain earlier that month. While this theory remains unproven, serious water loss proved to be all too real, and it launched the monument into an immediate crisis. [29]

Moore conveyed the immediacy of the situation to his superiors, stating that his only recourse was to haul water from other holes. This was impractical since many holes were remote or themselves drying up; more importantly, the tourist season was in full swing with well over a thousand visitors recorded up to that point. [30] It was clear to the Park Service that the monument's future hinged on acquiring an adequate water supply, and the bureau decided to develop a water system immediately, and in so doing granted the area permanence. The Park Service's decision testified, in part, that the agency valued the reserve for more than its "sanitation conveniences." At first Albright had worried that the Service would have to permanently close the monument to campers, yet he appreciated the monument's intrinsic qualities, as well as its function as a wayside to Yellowstone, and approved the installation of a water system as quickly as possible. [31] Recommending the project to Mather, Albright confessed that he felt Craters of the Moon deserved such treatment, for it was one of "the most important monuments in the system." [32]

As the Park Service planned the construction of a water line, the immediate concern was how to operate the "dry" monument while awaiting completion of the system. Rather than close the monument, Burrell recommended the implementation of his development plan. As a result, in the summer of 1927 Custodian Moore relocated the headquarters across from Crater Inn (now operational with five log structures: central lodge, gasoline station, and three log cabins), and created a makeshift single entrance system. [33] The Service arranged to purchase water from the concessionaire, who imported it from the town of Martin several miles away. As part of the agreement, tourists received water free of charge. Burrell justified this temporary solution to the director, stating that it was not only the best recourse short of closure, but also the most politically expedient for the Park Service, contingent upon the fact that the water system was completed in a timely matter. For it was a situation that "will not be tolerated by the people of Idaho for any great length of time without serious complaint and criticism of the Park Service." [34]

The project lasted four years and involved a majority of the administrative concerns during this period. Securing water required expansion, the settlement of private claims, and the resolution of a grazing controversy. The first step occurred on July 23, 1928, when President Calvin Coolidge signed a proclamation enlarging Craters of the Moon from thirty-nine to eighty-three square miles, assigning 2,380 acres of the Little Cottonwood Creek watershed to the Park Service, guaranteeing the monument's permanent water supply. [35]

Although Burrell thought that funding would be approved for the water system's construction in 1928--and thus solving "all of our difficulties forevermore"--the project's completion waited several more years. [36] Delays emerged over two private claims, totaling 320 acres, within the northern unit because they were located along the route of the proposed water line. In 1930, the Park Service acquired a right-of-way easement to cross the grazing lands owned by the Kilpatrick Brothers Company but not those of Arthur Brothers. Furthermore, the agency had received an appropriation for construction of the pipeline by June 30, 1931. This set of circumstances led the Service to seek legislation for a land exchange, thereby avoiding any conflict of interest with the water system or degradation to monument resources. Passed on February 21, 1931, the exchange bill authorized the Park Service to eliminate the private claims by trading for public lands of equal value outside the reserve. Without this legislation the water system could not be completed, and without the system, Albright stated, the Service could not develop the monument. [37]

The water system was completed on June 17, 1931, [38] yet due to budget constraints and four years of running a dry monument, the Park Service built the system in advance of formalizing the land transfers. As occurred earlier, the agency worked well with the Kilpatricks and arrived at an agreeable exchange, but negotiations for the Arthur lands proved to be more exacting, with purchase rather than exchange being the final result. Both cases were resolved by the end of 1933. [39]

The agency's attention to the reserve during the water crisis extended to other administrative objectives for the unit as well. In line with national trends and the movement toward professional staffing, Albright and Burrell felt that the area deserved "a proper administrative force." [40] This would consist of a well paid, experienced custodian with some seasonal staff for interpretive work, all of whom would ideally have geological (scientific) backgrounds. [41] Albright worried especially about the "type" of Park Service representative at the monument. Without proper salary, training within the System, and scientific knowledge, he questioned the commitment and scruples of the custodians, such as Robert Moore. The field assistant related to the director in July 1927 that without professional incentive and training custodians like Moore were liable to sell lava specimens or not abide by agency guidelines. By the 1928 season, when the custodian worked alone and the monument was open only in the summer, Albright suggested that the Park Service consider funding "for a full time custodian with an adequate salary." [42]

When the elderly Moore fell ill and declared he would soon retire in March 1930, Albright (now director) chose this time to pick a more desirable custodian. That person was Burton C. Lacombe, who entered duty on May 22, 1931 and helped fill the position with a more qualified individual. Lacombe was the former chief buffalo keeper at Yellowstone National Park. He had invested approximately twenty-five years of service at Yellowstone, eleven in a supervisory capacity. Although he appears to have had no training in geology, and assumed the custodianship without any trained seasonal staffing, Lacombe possessed the professional experience that Albright wanted. [43]

That this type of administrative move was important to Albright is apparent in the political tactics behind Lacombe's appointment. The buffalo keeper was the director's personal friend who was about to retire from his position at Yellowstone come August 1931. Possibly being forced to retire because he was growing too old for the rigors of herding buffalo, Lacombe could extend his employment with the Park Service for a few more years at Craters of the Moon. The director, who offered Lacombe the position after learning of Moore's poor health, wanted the custodian's vacancy kept quiet so nothing would interfere with Lacombe's transfer. Yet word soon got out and some controversy surfaced when local interest groups learned of the opening. Community leaders from Arco wanted to fill the position with a "local person" rather than a Park Service employee from outside the area. In a suspect move, the concession operator, Jo Martin, recommended his former partner and half brother, John R. Wright, for the job. Martin convinced C. A. Bottolfsen to endorse Wright, and Bottolfsen then persuaded Addison Smith to do the same. Idaho Senator John Thomas also inquired as to the legitimacy of the hiring process on behalf of Martin, yet all of this failed to change the Park Service's decision on Lacombe. The agency's position was that it would promote from within the ranks, considering its permanent employees first. [44]

While Albright might be accused of favoritism, given his friendship with Lacombe, he was acting on the recent upgrade of monument custodians to the same pay level as permanent park rangers. In this regard, though, his choice of Lacombe seemed to contradict his vision for staffing national monuments. "While these posts are perhaps somewhat isolated," he wrote, "they should offer a real opportunity for a live, energetic person who is interested in the outdoors and wants to advance in the National Park Service." Monuments were for the younger men who wanted a career in the bureau and a place to prove themselves. As he noted, "I do not want to have to put old timers on the ranger force into these kinds of positions, simply because parks want to get rid of them." [45]

The director's immediate vision for the custodian at the monument was a Park Service representative who would set a good administrative foundation, a manager who would not only carry out the caretaking responsibilities the job entailed, but who would also act in a public relations capacity. And in this capacity, Lacombe excelled. Although promotion of the National Park Service was standard administrative fare, political considerations existed that called for Park Service experience and public contact skills. Evidently, Lacombe's isolation from direct public contact at his former job did not limit him in any way. In fact, his rather "crusty" character seems to have been an attribute in protecting the monument.

Given his personality and presence, when Craters of the Moon experienced its first administrative conflict over grazing in 1931, Lacombe deftly handled the situation, quieting the protests of sheepherders, and establishing the policy that grazing was prohibited but seasonal sheep crossing was permissible. As part of the policy's success, Lacombe garnered strong public support for the Park Service's decision, ingratiating himself with community groups, joining their ranks, and starting the long history of monument managers' civic club memberships. Albright applauded Lacombe's efforts, and the gap between volunteer and professional, local and outsider, had been bridged. [46]

Finally, this step toward professionalism initiated an interesting management relationship with Yellowstone National Park; including Lacombe, three successive custodians transferred to the monument from Yellowstone, as did a large number of other staff over the years. In an unofficial sense, Craters was a satellite of the park benefiting from the expertise and training rangers earned while there.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, the main administrative thrusts were composed of setting up the monument's management, securing a permanent water supply, moving toward a professional administrative structure, and establishing a grazing policy to deter resource damage. These were not the only activities taking place, though; minor improvements such as road repair and comfort station facilities were either completed or under construction. Their appearance correlated with rising visitation, which had increased from over thirty-three hundred in 1925 to a pre-depression high of around seventy-six hundred. More significant, perhaps, was that this trend attested to the monument's growing sense of permanence. [47]

Early visitors at Cinderhurst Camp
Early visitor to Craters of the Moon stop at Cinderhurst Camp to register, 1926.
(CRMO Museum Collection)


The year 1933 proved to be a watershed year for parks nationwide. Reorganization diversified the National Park Service, and New Deal emergency work relief programs infused the agency with an immense amount of personnel and funding to carry out long-planned development projects. Many of these had been planned in the 1920s, yet appropriations and workforce had limited the Service to accomplishing only the immediate requirements of the parks. The increase in allotments for administration, maintenance, and protection escalated between 1933 and 1939, significantly affecting Craters of the Moon, thus initiating the monument's next administrative phase. [48]

The New Deal work programs at Craters of the Moon served to further establish the monument's administrative infrastructure. Physical developments topped the priority list. While the water system formed the major construction project in the first decade of the monument, there remained other development projects and administrative concerns to be addressed, such as modern comfort stations, roads, trails, and seasonal employees.

Approval of the 1933 master plan initiated a number of trail, road and building construction programs. [49] They emphasized the twin goals of preservation and use. Protecting the resource ranked in importance with enhancing visitor comfort and creating better access to the monument for tourists. Without development, the Park Service lacked the basic administrative capacity to mitigate damage and lacked the basic amenities to sustain a wider audience for the monument.

The custodian during most of the emergency program construction period, Albert T. Bicknell, a thirteen-year veteran of the Yellowstone ranger corps, determined priorities for the projects. [50] Bicknell recommended, among other things, the construction of a new administrative headquarters and checking kiosk, and the improvements of visitor facilities. For Bicknell resource protection was bound to the building of roads and trails, and the implementation of a maintenance program. Over six thousand tourists visited in 1933, and without a better road and trail system, inestimable resource damage already occurring at the monument would continue due to "autos leaving the road and driving on the cinder knolls, and also by pedestrians wandering at will over lava flows." [51] Equally important in this regard was the addition of at least two seasonal rangers for monument protection, "public contact and informational purposes." [52]

Between 1933 and 1939, most of Bicknell's recommendations were carried out. Work crews hired through the Civil Works and Public Works administrations erected a flush comfort station, constructed trails, and completed extensive road building. Other road projects for possible southern expansion were considered but left until later. [53]

Other than physical construction projects, the monument also acquired improvements in its administrative capacity. The first seasonal park ranger, G. Frederick Shepherd, with expertise in volcanology, entered duty on July 22, 1935, and in 1936, two seasonal rangers filled the monument's ranks. [54] The temporary rangers assured that no longer would monument administrators be required to perform every duty in managing the area. As Bicknell noted, "it [is now] possible for the custodian to give more time to the supervision and protection of the Monument." [55] Rangers such as Shepherd had the scientific training espoused by Park Service officials some eight years earlier. Such an educational background lent itself well to promoting visitor contacts, area investigations, and the beginnings of the monument's interpretive program, one of the hallmarks of Bicknell's administration being the drafting of the monument's first museum prospectus in 1935. [56] Also contributing to the area's administration, and especially protection against trespass grazing, was the 1936 act excising the northern three quarters of Section 16 from the monument. [57]

In all, the 1930s proved to be a productive period for the monument's administration. Even so, the Service's programs stopped short of full-area administrative development, supplying only the minimum required. Left out of the 1930s New Deal projects were many of the items requested by Bicknell, leaving the monument's facilities inadequate for current use. [58] The New Deal programs, nonetheless, boosted the monument's tourist appeal and administrative capacity to a degree the Park Service could not have reached on its own. And in the future, the Park Service anticipated increases in appropriations to improve and expand the monument's facilities, and continue the "building" process of the area's physical plant. However, World War II interceded, and the monument was in a holding pattern for the next decade.


The war years reduced protection and improvement programs at Craters of the Moon just as appreciable advances were being made. Visitation at the monument, for instance, peaked in 1941 at around 21,800. By virtue of the 1941 presidential proclamation, ninety-four acres were ceded from the monument to the state for reconstruction of Highway 22 passing through the monument; the cession also capstoned a highway improvement movement alive in the region since the late 1930s. [59] Both high visitation and road improvements predicted a bright future of increased travel to the monument and the surrounding region. Yet with the nation's entrance into the war, visitation plummeted to nearly sixty-nine hundred and bottomed out in 1943 at around twenty-two hundred, one thousand fewer than were recorded the first year statistics were kept in 1925.

Craters of the Moon listed like a ship dead in the water, but remained open. The isolation inherent in the geographic location was no longer alleviated by tourist traffic--and with the tourists went the central ingredient to any park unit's sense of purpose. Appropriations for the early 1940s evinced the custodial nature of the monument's administration; sums less than $100 were allocated for roads and trails, with the bulk of funding allocated for administration.

In his report of July 21, 1943, Region Four Director O. A. Tomlinson struck on a theme common and with far reaching implications to the administration of the monument. He concluded that even in spite of budget cutbacks for the war effort the monument was "fortunately" nearly self-operating. After inspecting the area's grounds from July 14 to 16, he proclaimed that "the full use, study and enjoyment of the Monument does not require large expenditures for protection, development and personnel." [60] Tomlinson's opinion was perhaps a death blow to the monument's existing threadbare appropriations. Echoing the opinion of Horace Albright in 1924, the regional director forecast the Service's approach to managing the reserve for the years to come.

Tomlinson asserted that "the administrative and protective force of the Monument should never be very large." Extensive lava flows acted as barriers to outside threats such as natural fires that might decimate the area's vegetation. This fact, coupled with the accessibility of the spectacular formations to visitors, rendered the monument's management a rather simple task. The regional director believed that the Park Service

should plan for no more personnel than one custodian, one clerk-ranger, and one maintenance man as a permanent staff. Two, and possibly three, seasonal rangers and two or three temporary laborers will be needed for maintaining the roads, trails, and other facilities, and serving the visitors during the summer season. [61]

Few available records reveal the administrative conditions during this period, and those which exist paint a grim picture. On October 16, 1944, Field Auditor Clarence E. Persons indicated that the monument was in an utter state of disrepair. The area's physical appearance was a shambles. The monument's grounds and buildings wanted for cleaning. Likewise, the office--the main contact point for visitors--was in a deplorable condition. Everything was in a state of disarray; opened and unopened mail littered desks; files filled the floor space. [62] In a similar inspection in 1946, Regional Landscape Architect Sanford Hill offered an analysis frequently applied to the monument's first decades of administration, underscored by the war years. "Craters of the Moon is more or less an isolated area and it has the appearance of being neglected by the Service. Improvements for this area should be scheduled at an early date." At risk here were both the public's impression of Park Service operations and the "proper presentation of the natural features of the area." [63]

Regional Director Tomlinson responded to these charges by suggesting that the conditions were not entirely the custodian's fault. [64] Guy E. McCarty, a Yellowstone ranger for approximately twelve years prior to his arrival, had the longest tenure of any manager (1937-1949). He weathered the war and postwar years managing the area virtually alone, being the only permanent employee. [65] As Tomlinson admitted, the monument suffered from cutbacks, as had other areas, and from a lack of contact with the Region Four staff in San Francisco. Remoteness characterized the monument and its management.

The regional director, accepting some responsibility for the monument's shortcomings, attempted to provide the area better assistance and strengthen its administration. Following the end of the war, the regional office moved to make the monument the year-round duty station for the custodian and supply him with additional staff. Up until this point, custodians had operated the monument seasonally, opening in the spring, generally May, and closing with the onset of winter in December. For a variety of reasons the Park Service allowed this mode of operation. Winter cold and drifting snows deterred visitation, blocking the monument highway and loop road. In addition, the concessionaire closed in the winter ending tourist accommodations until the spring (yet the operators wanted the Park Service to guard their property). Custodians themselves faced problems of winter access, had few visitors to contact, saw little resource threats, and were isolated in extreme conditions in unsuitable housing.

Director Albright stated the Service's position on this matter in November 1930. He told Custodian Moore that until the Service provided him with year-round quarters, he could relocate the monument's headquarters "within a reasonable distance from the Monument" as long as he made "occasional trips to patrol the area and protect it from vandalism," being under no obligation to guard the concessionaire's property. [66] Even after Custodian Lacombe's new residence was built in 1931, it was still considered "seasonal," and most custodians relocated to Arco, while others wintered in California or worked in other parks. [67]

Custodian McCarty continued the practice during his tenure. Although a year round-tour of duty was established in 1937, the monument still lacked the proper housing and modern utilities to be open all year, so the custodian received permission to move the monument's headquarters to Arco throughout the winter months. However, pressure to upgrade the administration changed this policy.

For several years the regional office had sought solutions to caring for the monument while McCarty took leave or changed headquarter locations. In the meantime, it was learned that the custodian evidently did "absolutely nothing" during his winter in Arco, and that contrary to past practices the state highway department was keeping the monument highway open through the winter, and would have plowed into the monument if McCarty had asked. Thus by March 1948, the regional director instructed the custodian to employ a caretaker in his absence (the only added staffing provision at this time) and, more importantly, urged him to remain at the monument the entire year. Tomlinson believed this change was warranted because with the highway open to travel all year, "we can no longer justify leaving the monument unattended even though few people enter it during the winter months." [68] Part of this shift toward improving standards, if in name only, was the title change from custodian to superintendent in 1948. [69]

In spite of these efforts, two General Accounting Office reports in the fall of 1949 revealed that the San Francisco office had failed to sufficiently raise the monument's administrative standards, especially in the subjects of fiscal matters and paperwork. At one point, Park Service Assistant Director Hillory Tolson, citing these deficiencies and the Region Four office's distance from Craters of the Moon, recommended that some or all of the monument's administrative tasks be transferred to Region Two, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. In this way, Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park could assist in managing the monument. Tomlinson denied allegations that his office was incapable of supervising the monument, pointing out that Omaha was twice as far from the monument as San Francisco; his staff adequately supervised Alaska and Hawaii park units, all farther from regional headquarters than Craters of the Moon. Shortly thereafter Tomlinson, acting on Tolson's suggestion of having larger parks aid smaller park units, instructed Mount Rainier National Park to advise the monument in many of its fiscal and administrative procedures. By October 1952, according to Regional Director Lawrence C. Merriam, Mount Rainier was considered the monument's purchasing office, and was able to assist the area in other accounting-related matters better than the regional office. [70]

Even though officials retained the monument within Region Four, promises for more staff and better facilities went unfulfilled until the early 1950s. Meanwhile, planning played a significant role. Carried over from the New Deal prospectus, the construction of a new headquarters complex closer to the highway topped master plan proposals. At the time, the monument's buildings consisted of structures dating to the 1920s and early 1930s along with an assortment of temporary buildings converted from old tent frames, which served as an office, quarters, and garage. Though plans shuffled between the regional office and the monument, with both sides in agreement, funding cutbacks prevented any new construction. [71]

When the war ended, travel restrictions were lifted and conditions at the monument were changed. Visitation in 1946 climbed back into the five-figure range, almost duplicating its 1938 mark of about 19,300, and by 1949, it had breached thirty-six hundred. Despite Tomlinson's conviction that the monument was self-running, capable of doing so on a minimal scale, the surge in tourism reflected a different situation. Like most areas within the National Park System, Craters of the Moon found itself unprepared to cope with the growing number of visitors. The monument's infrastructure had remained essentially the same since 1924. By mid-century, Craters of the Moon had reached a critical turning point.


During its first twenty-five years, Craters of the Moon depended on custodians, often shackled by meager appropriations and staffing, to carry out its management. As the progression of their administrations suggests, there was a decided trend from volunteerism to professionalism, from dedicated citizens engaged in "labors of love" to trained Park Service managers establishing policies. As with any generalization there were qualifications. The most prevalent was that the monument seemed to receive managers who were either beginning or ending their careers, causing inconsistencies in its administration--a pattern which, to some degree, repeated itself throughout monument history. Moreover, although changing the title from custodian to superintendent might have been the Park Service's way of gaining more respect for monument managers (who were not janitors), it arrived at a time when Craters of the Moon was poised for change. The superintendents, many of whom were better staffed and funded than their predecessors, inaugurated a new chapter in the monument's administration.

Aubrey F. Houston became the first full-time superintendent of Craters of the Moon in October 1949, when he transferred from Death Valley National Monument where he had been a park ranger. Shortly after his arrival, he issued a report evaluating the monument's facilities and made recommendations for what he called improvements for future "imminent needs." It proved to be one of the most insightful documents to date, calling out the new era the monument was about to embark on. Analyzing the historical trends of the area's administration up to the present, Houston noted that Craters of the Moon had existed as "a sort of backwater." The volcanic features drew mostly local attention, and in any case, the small visitation numbers in the past required little "in the way of physical development and personnel." That picture, he proclaimed, "has changed, practically overnight." [72]

Both the state and the nation had recently realized that "the area has much to offer from the economic, recreational, and now, the scientific, standpoints. The recreational values, especially, have been overlooked." The confluence of three factors contributed to this sudden change: highway development, tourism, and the Atomic Energy Commission. Monument access was linked to two important travel routes. The highway traversing the monument was part of the newly improved coast-to-coast, "scenic" Highway 20 with connections to and from Yellowstone National Park, and the same roadway also formed a main segment of the Yellowstone-Sun Valley Highway leading into central Idaho. [73]

In the postwar boom of affluence and travel for middle-class Americans, these improvements denoted increased tourism for the monument, strategically located along U.S. 20. For its part, the state of Idaho and local civic groups planned a substantial advertising campaign. Craters of the Moon, being the only Park Service site in the state (except for a remote strip of Yellowstone National Park), would own its share of publicity.

In the immediate vicinity, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) selected a site in the desert seven miles east of Arco for a research facility in March 1949. The construction, growth in population, and economy associated with the development and operation of the facility initiated its own rise in publicity and visitation to Craters. Each of the projected seventy-five hundred to ten thousand employees at the AEC site alone must be considered potential visitors, Houston contended.

The superintendent warned that "it has been so long since anything has been done in the way of physical improvement, that we find ourselves in the position of needing everything all at once because of the situation which has developed in such a short time." At the very least, Houston needed adequate facilities and personnel, renewing the requests of past officials. Recognizing that budget limitations operated against his proposals, Houston suggested that additional revenues might be accrued through a remodeled concession service near the monument entrance, operation of a downhill skiing business at the monument, and extension of entrance fees collection. [74]

Regional Director Tomlinson responded warmly to Houston's report, but not his economic schemes, and agreed with the superintendent that the best way to fulfill the Service's mission would be to furnish the administrative facilities, larger staff, and interpretive services necessary for increased travel. But all development should still proceed on a small scale: leave the overnight comforts to gateway towns like Arco, and provide for the day-time needs of tourists within the monument. [75] The master plans drafted during the early 1950s expressed some of Houston's input and the Service's new development concept for the monument, with its upgraded physical plant, and administrative and visitor facilities located nearer to the highway. In reality, though, stop-gap measures in the form of rehabilitation projects predominated.

Two positive matters aided in management, though. The creation of the first permanent ranger position finally occurred, and was filled on June 22, 1952 by Robert C. Zink. [76] And the Park Service gained ownership of eight hundred acres of school lands within the monument through condemnation procedures that same year. [77]

Opening Day, ca. 1950
Opening Day, ca. 1950, reveals the monument's layout and popularity. From left to right, Crater Inn, superintendent's cabin, and comfort station. Fire circle, stage, and horses, ready for celebration, are visible as well. (CRMO Museum Collection)


"Mission 66 has broken over our heads almost with a vengeance," commented Ranger Robert Zink in 1956, and "we are among the first areas to receive its blessings." [78]

Since the time Superintendent Houston had made his predictions in early 1950, the monument's visitation had more than doubled, from fifty thousand to one hundred thousand in 1956. Yet Craters of the Moon's administrative capacity remained largely unchanged. More than ever, visitor services and resource protection fell short of need for lack of proper facilities and personnel.

The monument's poor conditions mirrored those systemwide, and so did the solution to its problems. Through the capital development program known as Mission 66, the Park Service upgraded existing park unit facilities and constructed new ones over a period of ten years. The program gained popular support and congressional appropriations soared. Mission 66's effect on the monument cannot be overemphasized. It was the fulcrum point from which its mission moved forward and to fulfillment. It was a new era for a previously neglected area. Mission 66 provided the monument with better roads and facilities, and new utilities and staffing with which to operate and build upon.

Two superintendents, Everett W. Bright and Floyd A. Henderson, guided the monument through Mission 66's principal phases, 1956-1961. Because Mission 66 looked to the future for all aspects of park management, especially how the parks could be developed to accommodate the expected 80 million visitors systemwide by the mid-1960s, planning and development occupied both Bright's and Henderson's tenures. The 1956 Mission 66 prospectus and Mission 66 master plan were drafted during their respective superintendencies and delineated the monument's management and development direction. The common factor was the anticipated half a million visitors within the decade. Besides preparing for this inundation and protecting the monument's resources, the plans specifically sought to fulfill Craters of the Moon's scientific and educational mission, further defined as "to provide opportunity for the understanding and appreciation of this unusual and outstanding volcanic landscape, the natural forces that created it, and the biological and other natural forces that continue to modify it." [79]

Past management conditions and climbing visitation had combined to hinder the monument's purpose; many visitors spent a short period of time (about one hour) and left unaware of the area's significance because the Park Service had failed to provide good information on volcanism and the natural environment. Thus interpretation formed a chief component in achieving this management philosophy, with the hope of expanding the visitors' stay and knowledge. Through interpretation, the visitor could achieve a greater appreciation for the monument's resources, and increase their protection in the process. All told, Mission 66 overhauled the area's administrative infrastructure in order to correct its shortcomings.

The design theme emphasized the monument's day-use visitation pattern and concentrated all work in the already developed northern area. Afterwards the physical plant consisted of a new visitor center, offices, staff housing, maintenance buildings, and utilities, water and sewage systems, as well as an improved road and trail system, and an enlarged campground. As part of its "new look," the program also removed the old administration buildings, the only remnants of the early headquarters site being the warehouse and log comfort station. Building removal also included the concessionaire's Crater Inn and associated cabins. Choosing to accommodate the transient visitor and considering the concession's history of near-failure, the Park Service eliminated concession services from the monument. [80]

The program also expanded the monument's organizational structure. An increase in permanent employees, for instance, joined the new physical developments and administrative office space, and constituted one of the greatest changes in monument management. An administrative assistant, park naturalist, and maintenance worker were added to the former permanent staff of supervisory ranger and superintendent. Seasonal help numbered eight by 1960. The additional permanent personnel initiated management operations under the protection division and the newly formed interpretation division.

By the early 1960s, monument officials believed that the Mission 66 developments had created a solid foundation for Craters of the Moon to succeed in its mission. Both new facilities and additional personnel contributed to this assessment. The dual mandate of protecting the monument's resources and of assisting the visitor in becoming aware of "the area, its story, and its value" was secure. Fostering an appreciation of the area's resources in both scientific and lay public alike was occurring through the virtually self-guiding interpretive tour, with orientation at the visitor center and museum, and a drive around the loop road with its educational and scenic opportunities. While no overnight lodging was available in the monument, the improved campground offered visitors an opportunity to either picnic or spend the night in a volcanic environment. [81]

Continuing management goals aimed at interpreting the area's volcanic and biologic resources, and further increasing interpretive services and protection through encouraged outside research and employee training; other management objectives focused on seeking cooperation with other state and federal agencies, and assessing visitor patterns should the day-use standard change and a concessionaire be needed. Where developments were concerned, however, management goals adhered to a "confinement" concept. To ensure the preservation of present values and the wise use of the resources it was necessary to keep any additional facilities within the already developed site. [82]

The Mission 66 program at Craters of the Moon literally brought the monument into a "modern" stage of administration. The first three decades of management had been more passive than active, caused by insufficient appropriations, facilities, and staffing. By the early 1960s, however, the monument's administration had shifted to a more active position. Superintendents, with more personnel and an improved physical plant, directed their attention to mitigating resource damage and enhancing the visitor experience.

Visitor Center/Mission 66 Dedication, June 1958
Visitor center/Mission 66 dedication ceremony, June 1958. C.A. Bottolfsen, speaking; Superintendent Everett Bright, far left; Secretary of the Interior Fred A. Seaton, front row, standing far right. (CRMO Museum Collection)


Resource management, its development and implementation, predominated the post-Mission 66 era. The monument's resource management program integrated natural and cultural resources management, interpretation, and scientific research. Superintendents throughout the next several decades contributed to each of these areas in various ways, depending on their interest, expertise, and the monument's specific requirements. And many left their mark in other areas of management such as planning and publicity.

Central to most management issues superintendents faced was a deficient knowledge of the monument's resources. Research consequently formed a high priority for many managers in order to better protect and present the area's resources. Beginning in the early 1960s, superintendents and their staffs sought out state universities to conduct research projects at the monument in order to obtain this much-needed baseline documentation. [83]

Reflecting the monument's scientific goals and emphasis on research and resource protection was the addition of the Carey Kipuka on November 19, 1962. [84] The presidential proclamation added approximately fifty-three hundred acres to the southwest section of the monument, of which the kipuka comprised 180 acres of mostly undisturbed, native grasslands. The addition movement was spearheaded during Superintendent Floyd Henderson's administration in 1958, reflecting Henderson's background in managing volcanic park areas in Hawaii. The intent was both to preserve the kipuka as a representative feature of a volcanic environment and to offer it as a place for comparative scientific study in plant and soils research. For interpretation, this new, accurate information could be passed on to visitors. [85]

This period also witnessed a trend in the monument's management with a series of short but highly influential superintendencies. Of the three superintendents involved, their tenures lasted two years or less; this type of activity created a revolving-door image of the office during a very dynamic era in the Park Service. Those destined to better things, it seems, trained at Craters of the Moon, for all three went on to positions at larger parks or the Washington office. Merle E. Stitt, the first of these superintendents, remained at Craters less than a year, and his administration is characterized more by what happened while he was there than by what he did. A number of resource management issues were defined during his superintendency, among them geologic resource destruction and the Mistletoe Control Project, which commenced with tree removal in 1962.

Controversy erupted over eradicating mistletoe in this manner when Daniel E. Davis assumed the superintendency in 1963. Davis objected to the project because it ignored ecological principles. Tangling with the regional office, he was influential in the program's termination, setting a precedent for abiding by sound scientific study in resource management at the monument.[86] Davis, too, addressed issues related to the destruction of geologic features, and was also instrumental in expanding interpretation and developing the monument's first interpretive prospectus, written in 1964. [87] That year as well, Davis spent the majority of his time participating in the interagency study of Idaho's Sawtooth Mountains; this kind of duty exemplified the important role the monument superintendent played in a state with only one National Park Service site at the time.

In the fall of 1964 Roger J. Contor entered a two-year superintendency in which he completed several important management documents. Responding to an agency mandate to update all master plans after the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act and before any wilderness studies could take place, Contor revised the Mission 66 master plan. Perhaps the plan's most distinctive quality was its anticipation of increased travel and congestion. In order to relieve future overcrowding and enable motorists to see a complete sampling of the monument's volcanic features, Contor's plan proposed extending the loop drive around Big Cinder Butte, and establishing a new and larger campsite and related visitor facilities in the Little Cottonwood meadow in the northern unit. Contor, trying to predict future needs, was faced with ending all expansion once the monument's backcountry was established as wilderness. To offset this, he noted that the Little Cottonwood drainage might also provide space for expansion of the monument's administrative headquarters. [88]

Afterwards, the monument's wilderness proposal was begun and submitted in 1965, as was the first wildlife and range management plan. The drafting of this latter plan reflected Contor's training in wildlife biology and the perception that a more concerted effort was needed toward managing the popular mule deer herd and other wildlife within the monument. Another important "first" was the resource management plan. Drafted in 1966, it was also the first resource management plan completed in Western Region, and significant because it set down in one document the monument's resource management philosophy--that all activity must consider the deceptively fragile lava formations and associated features. [89]

In September 1966, with the arrival of Superintendent Paul Fritz, the monument's administration acquired a new character, one that reached beyond its boundaries to the rest of the state. Fritz, trained in landscape architecture, performed a dual role during his superintendency. He was both superintendent and keyman for Idaho's Sawtooth National Park study. And in the latter part of his eight year assignment, he worked as the Service's state coordinator. To compensate him for his additional assignments, the superintendent's salary was increased from a GS-11 to a GS-12 and later to a GS-13 level, and dropped to its original level when he departed.

Once again a monument superintendent represented the Park Service in duties outside of managing Craters of the Moon. In Fritz's case this meant frequent trips to meetings far from his own park, participating, for example, in the planning of Redwood National Park and the Alaska parks. At the state level, he spread the word about national parks, bringing greater attention not only to the monument but also to the Park Service in general throughout Idaho. Yet his actions often stirred up controversy within his own agency. He was somewhat of a gadfly, an admitted environmentalist whose activities seemed to pose a conflict of interest. He was known to belong to interest groups opposing the Park Service and to openly oppose or seemingly defy some of his superiors. His frequent absence from the monument also posed management problems. In the 1970s, an administrative officer was appointed to essentially carry out the superintendent's duties during extended absences, relieving other staff members of the chore. More to the point, Fritz was accused of neglecting the monument by those same superiors and his successors. [90]

His attention to resource management and administrative issues both supports and counters some of this criticism. On the one hand, while Fritz's administration saw the first mule deer study take place in 1966 and the final private inholding purchased in 1967, these were programs initiated by other superintendents. On the other hand, the establishment of the monument's wilderness area on October 23, 1970, setting aside some forty-three hundred acres, bore Fritz's stamp, for it included Big Cinder Butte which had been previously excluded. Fritz's background as a landscape architect and his concern for the environment influenced his objections to the Park Service's wilderness proposal for the monument. The ensuing internal conflict was worth engaging in, Fritz believed. In the end, it preserved valuable examples of volcanic phenomena which otherwise would have been exposed to possible destruction had the planned road, proposed in the 1966 master plan, been allowed. Circumventing traditional channels he managed to have his own proposal accepted by Congress. To the monument's credit, it was the first park unit in the Pacific Northwest Region to have a designated wilderness, sharing the honor systemwide with Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona. [91]

In the early 1970s, Fritz expressed to the fullest his planning and public relations abilities when he laid the groundwork for the monument's expansion and park redesignation. To this end, a master plan study was undertaken by the Denver Service Center in 1973. The study also was to reassess the monument's visitor-use pattern and experience, interpretive programs and land needs, and the influence of increased recreation on its resources. The influences of this study are evident in the redesignation and expansion movement of the late 1980s. [92]

Fritz left the monument in 1974 to work full time as the Park Service's state coordinator in Boise. And although his superintendency gained the monument more wilderness lands and raised its publicity level, he left Craters of the Moon "drying on the vine," according to Robert J. "Cy" Hentges. Superintendent Hentges, Fritz's successor, characterized his management emphasis as "operation clean sweep." In Hentges' estimation improvements were needed in all phases of management, especially resource management, because of Fritz's intermittent presence. Beginning with his arrival in 1974, Hentges took particular interest in the grazing and hunting issues in the Little Cottonwood Creek watershed, achieving with time noticeable mitigation in both areas. [93]

Advances such as these were directly related to changes in monument personnel, in the positions of chief ranger and interpreter, in the late 1970s. With two qualified and motivated individuals heading resource protection and interpretation, programs which had previously lacked guidance, results soon followed. In 1979 Hentges' administration produced the second interpretive prospectus, fifteen years after the appearance of the first document. In 1982, after a similar span of time since the first plan, a second resource management plan appeared. These documents signified renewed interest, advances, and more organized management in both natural and cultural resources, the fruits of which were born out in protection and additional research. A second mule deer study, a monument history, and baseline inventories were among those projects undertaken. Hentges also engaged in the first rehabilitation project of the Crystal Fissure Spatter Cones, the centerpiece of the monument's volcanic features. Adjustments to the monument's organizational structure, in some respects, were responsible for advances in management. Hentges separated resource protection and interpretation into two divisions. By lowering inflated grades in administration and maintenance divisions, the superintendent was able to use the remaining money, pooled with cyclic funding, for maintenance projects for the physical plant. Remodeling the headquarters and maintenance buildings, especially during the energy crisis, and repairing roads marked some of the highlights. [94]

Hentges' emphasis on shoring up deficiencies in management and his intense approach to management issues brought results, but sometimes his tactics and style were questioned. The last years of his decade-long superintendency were marred by a suspension related to charges of misuse of a government vehicle (1982), and strained relations with members of his staff and at least one neighboring rancher. These conditions, save the suspension, had no doubt arisen before at the monument, and they are of importance here, not because they isolate one person's shortcomings, but because they reflect a small area's confining and isolating effects. The monument's staff works on an intimate level and in an integrated fashion, which can be both empowering and debilitating. [95]

After Hentges transferred to Mount Rainier National Park in 1984, Superintendent Robert E. Scott assumed the superintendency and worked to pull the monument's staff back together and focus on the monument's mission. Scott's administration continued the collection of baseline data to better plan and manage both the monument's natural and cultural resources. He also continued rehabilitation of monument housing and other structures. For Scott, external threats were some of the most important issues to address. And air quality management--the threat to the monument's Class I airshed from pollution--formed one of his major thrusts. During his tenure as well, encroachment on the monument's boundaries for recreation and mining ventures continued to present problems, as did the chronic internal concerns of volcanic resource damage. The superintendent helped to draft legislation in 1987 for realigning the northern boundary along the hydrographic divide, an issue as old as the monument, and rooted in the protracted struggles to protect the watershed, and halt trespass grazing and illegal hunting. [96] That legislation has lain dormant until another, much broader, issue is decided--the 1990 proposals for monument expansion and redesignation. [97]

Scott, faced with these proposals, was able to successfully lobby for preparation of a general management plan. Drafted in 1991, the plan documents another stage in the monument's administration, calling for another redevelopment program similar to Mission 66. In a sense, this study brings the administration full circle. Once again, the monument's staff has outgrown its facilities. Personnel is up from five to eleven permanent employees on average--augmented recently with the addition of a resource management division--and with approximately fourteen seasonals on staff, subject to fluctuating budgets and qualified applicants. Not only has the administrative capacity grown and changed, but so has the visitor, who comes in larger numbers (over 200,000 a year). Most likely behind the wheel of recreational vehicle, he will come in higher numbers, it is thought, due to anticipated recreational developments in the region. Although noticeable in the 1970s, the visitation season has expanded into the shoulder months of the season, early spring and late fall. All of this stresses existing facilities, causes traffic congestion, and interferes with Park Service operations. [98]

Future plans project that the Mission 66 design will have to be revised by separating visitor services from administrative offices and staff housing through construction of a new visitor center and entrance. In this way the monument staff, having outgrown its facilities, will be able to expand into the present museum and live with greater privacy. Visitors as well, it is hoped, will be able to experience a less congested monument, with better facilities, roads, and interpretive sites.

In summary, throughout the phases of the monument's management no debilitating controversies have undermined or seriously threatened Craters of the Moon's administration. Because the monument is located in a remote and harsh environment, no forces opposed its creation and no opposing force has surfaced since. While relatively free of controversy, the monument still faced a number of challenges. In terms of administration and resource management, delays have formed some of the greatest obstacles--delays in developing adequate administrative facilities and acquiring adequate staff. Isolation has been a consistent theme as well, especially attracting the attention of regional personnel and qualified staffing. All of this contributed to the image of the monument as "self-operating." Because it finally provided the foundation of adequate staff and facilities, the Mission 66 program served as the watershed in the area's evolution. Significant advances in resource management date from that era and are testimony to the initiative of monument managers as much as they are to any one program or outside assistance.

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Last Updated: 27-Sep-1999