Eighty Years in the Making
A Legislative History of Voyageurs National Park
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The formal establishment of Voyageurs National Park in April, 1975 was the final event in the thirteen year quest for national park standing along that segment of the border lakes region from Crane Lake to Rainy Lake. In an address to the April 1975 meeting of the Voyageurs National Park Association, Merrill D. Beal, Midwest Regional Director for the NPS, paid tribute to the beauty of the region and said only thirty-six areas in the nation have merited the honor of national park designation since the establishment of Yellowstone National Park 103 [years] earlier. [579] Lloyd Brandt, President of the VNPA, said of the establishment event, ". . . like one waking out of a long sleep to find everything change, we have in the past few years awakened to the reality of what we have done to our earth. Now it is time celebrate the preservation of what is left, to restore what has been tarnished, and to renew what is renewable." [580] Brandt's observation was in accord with Myrl Brooks' comments in 1974, when he said of Voyageurs, ". . .many area people don't recognize the value of the park land resources. The main objective is to return the park's lands and water to as near a natural state as possible." [581]

As 1975 drew to a close, the staff of the newly established park could point to some notable accomplishments that would facilitate their efforts to bring the park closer to realization of long-term management objectives. Late in the year it became clear that purchase of nearly one half or about 25,000 acres of Boise Cascade lands would soon pass to the NPS. This land, along with the transfer of Forest Service land in roughly the same amount, meant that the NPS would become owner of 79% of the land and waters within the park boundaries. Planning for the park perimeter was moving forward and the first round of public hearings on the park's revised Master Plan had been completed. Also, the tentative timetable for future construction projects in the park had been made public. There were still those who held opinions different from those of individuals and groups favoring the park but opportunities to express those difference were built into the review process. Voyageurs was on the way toward becoming a star member of the small but select group of national parks in the United States. The long-held dream of protecting for all time the "Voyageurs Highway" from Grand Portage to Rainy Lake became a reality!

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Last Updated: 23-Jan-2009