Proposed Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
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1. What is the proposal?

The National Park Service has proposed setting aside an area of approximately 168,000 acres (108,000 acres of land and 60,000 acres of water) along the International Boundary in Minnesota to be preserved as a National Park for the enjoyment and inspiration of the people of the Nation. The area lies east of International Falls and includes Kabetogama Peninsula, Kabetogama Lake, and parts of Rainy and Namakan Lakes. The park would contain the superlative scenery of an unusually beautiful system of lakes, streams and forests; an outstanding representation of Precambrian geology and a land surface shaped by continental glaciation; and historical associations with the fur trade and the era of exploration along the International Boundary. Preservation of the area's wild and natural qualities while allowing its use would be the basic objective of all planning, development and administration.

Copies of the National Park Service report, a proposed Voyageurs National Park, may be obtained by writing to the Regional Director, National Park Service, Midwest Region, 1709 Jackson Street, Omaha, Nebraska, 68102.

2. What is the National Park Service and what is its job?

The National Park Service, a Bureau of the Department of the Interior, is the agency of the Federal Government established by the Congress to preserve this Nation's outstanding scenic, scientific, and historic areas so that they may be enjoyed by all. More specifically, the Act of August 25, 1916, which established the Service, stated that the purpose of National Parks, Monuments and similar reservations is, "to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

3. What is a National Park?

A National Park is a spacious area essentially of primitive or wilderness character which contains scenic, natural, and historic qualities so outstanding that its preservation intact has been provided for by its having been designated and set aside by the Federal Government for the benefit, enjoyment, and inspiration of all the people.

National Parks must be spacious to allow for protection of the scene, to maintain a reasonable balance of the plants and animals which are a natural part of that scene and, at the same time, allow for public use. Only areas of the most outstanding scenic, scientific and historic values are able to qualify for National Park status. Hence, there are only 31 National Parks in the United States today. National Park status is a guarantee of quality; many people visit parks just because they are National Parks--Voyageurs well qualifies to join this select group.

4. How is a National Park established?

An act of Congress is required to authorize a National Park. After being so authorized, a park is formally established when enough land has been acquired to form an administrable unit. The time lapse between a park's authorization and the actual establishment may vary considerably depending on the program of land acquisition.

The first National Parks were established in the west from land already owned by the Federal Government. Such public land could be designated as National Parks or National Monuments without land purchase. For new parks in the east, Congress usually specified in the authorizing legislation that there be no appropriation of Federal funds for land acquisition. The land needed was acquired by the States or by private donation and conveyed to the Federal Government for administration by the National Park Service. Some recent legislation authorizes Federal appropriation of funds for land purchase. Undoubtedly, however, the greater the State's participation in the acquisition of lands, the sooner an area could be established.

5. Should a Voyageurs National Park be authorized, under what procedures would private lands and dwellings be acquired?

Normally, land may be acquired by purchase, exchange, donation, or should Federal land be involved, by transfer.

Should the Federal Government purchase any of the land, it would do so through direct negotiation with the property owners on the basis of fair market values determined by non-Federal, qualified appraisers. Every reasonable effort would be made to reach amicable agreements with the owners for acquisition of their properties. While the United States has authority to acquire lands within an authorized Federal area by eminent domain, it is the policy of the National Park Service to resort to such action only in those instances where necessary to clear title, to provide a place for a needed public facility, and to prevent adverse types of development and use.

In developing a plan, it is necessary to decide what lands are required to achieve the public objective. Should the project be authorized, detailed studies would be needed to determine the final boundary. Ownership and severance considerations would then be pertinent factors.

6. As private properties in the park are acquired, would home owners be permitted to remain?

Where continued occupancy does not defeat or seriously impair the major preservation and public use purposes of a National Park, the Service frequently buys property subject to lifetime or for specified periods of occupancy by their owners, if they so wish. In such cases, the owners are paid a fair market value for the property, less a fair market value of the use right retained by the owners. Somewhat similar arrangements might be worked out where camps or clubs are concerned.

7. How long would it take for development of the park after establishment?

A Master Plan for the park would be prepared by the National Park Service, including detailed plans for access roads, trails and facilities needed. Development normally would be programmed over a number of years for a new park of this size.

Accomplishment of proposed developments would depend on the rate of annual appropriations by the Congress. However, the Service would hope to provide, as soon as practicable, basic facilities which would enable the park visitors to use and enjoy the area.

8. What would be the economic benefits if a park is established in this area?

The National Park Service has contracted with the University of Minnesota, Duluth, for an economic study of the effect establishment of a National Park would have on the surrounding area. Included in the study will be a determination of the effect on tax receipts of local governments; an evaluation of the effect on the local economic contributions of forest products industries; estimates of the number of visitors to be expected annually and estimates of average length of stay by visitors; the extent and local impact of new public and private investment likely to result in the study area; and an estimation of the net effect on income and employment in the study area.

This study is scheduled to be completed by November 15, 1964, and the results will be made public.

Similar studies elsewhere have demonstrated that National Parks have resulted in economic benefit to local communities and the States. A University of Wyoming study of the economic effect of Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, showed that from 1950 to 1958 the retail sales index of Teton County rose from 122 to 218; the total assessment value of real and personal property increased from $4,696,412 to $8,190,768; and the revenue from a sales and use tax increased from $7,645,667, to $15,370,637.

A travel study at Glacier National Park showed that in the 12-month period ending in September 1951, people from all the States, the District of Columbia, Canada, and other countries spent some $4 million in and around the Park and an additional $8 million in the State of Montana. A similar survey of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, made in 1956 by State Highway Departments and the Bureau of Public Roads, showed that the 2.5 million people who visited the Park during one year spent more than $28 million within a 30-mile radius of the Park. More recently, it has been estimated that in 1964 the tourist business in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area will amount to approximately $42 million, and that visitation to the Great Smoky National Park will be close to 5-1/2 million.

9. How many people would be employed in such a National Park?

Once the park would be fully developed, it is anticipated there would be 20 to 30 permanent employees, plus a considerable number of seasonal employees. Permanent positions are filled under the rules and regulations of the U.S. Civil Service Commission. Clerical and maintenance personnel are usually recruited from the local area.

10. What general visitor uses would be appropriate in a Voyageurs National Park and to what extent would necessary facilities for these uses be provided?

The varied opportunities in this park would provide rewarding experiences for those interested in geology, botany, wildlife, and history, as well as those interested primarily in fishing, camping, hiking, birdwatching, photography, and boating.

Conducted boat trips, nature walks, campfire programs, interpretive markers, self-guiding nature trails and wayside exhibits would provide interesting details of the natural and historical scene. Visitor facilities would consist of campgrounds, boat rental and docking facilities, and visitor centers. Any developments needed would be designed and located to intrude on the natural scene as little as possible.

11. What provisions would be made within the park for meals, lodging, and related services?

The National Park Service plan does not provide for motels, lodges, cabins, and related services within the proposed park, so long as these are adequately provided outside the park. There are several communities close to the area which should have an opportunity to provide necessary visitor facilities through private enterprise. Such efforts could well make important contributions to the economy of these communities.

12. Would fishing, hunting and trapping be permitted within the park?

Fishing would be an important use. The Federal Government does not issue permits for this use, since fishing in National Parks and Monuments is usually in conformity with the laws of the States within which they are located, including the application of any State license requirements. Management as related to fishing would be in cooperation with the State Department of Conservation and the Bureau of Sports Fisheries and Wildlife of the Department of the Interior.

Hunting and trapping are not compatible with the basic purpose of establishing an area as a National Park to preserve its natural values. Public enjoyment of native wildlife is a major purpose of park conservation.

13. What circulation systems would be provided in the park?

Access roads would be limited much as now. Travel and use beyond the termini of these roads would be by trail and water.

"As a primary goal, we would recommend that the biotic associations within each park be maintained, or where necessary recreated, as nearly as possible in the condition that prevailed when the area was first visited by the white man. A national park should represent a vignette of primitive America."

Advisory Board on Wildlife Management
U.S. Department of the Interior
Wildlife Management in the National Parks
March 4, 1963

Prepared by:

Midwest Region
National Park Service
Omaha, Nebraska
September 1964

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Last Updated: 03-Feb-2009