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A Study of the Park and Recreation Problem of the United States





Supplemental Foreword


Recreational Habits and Needs

Aspects of Recreational Planning

Present Public Outdoor Recreational Facilities




A Park and Recreational Land Plan

A Study of the Park and Recreation Problem of the United States
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Chapter III: Present Public Outdoor Recreational Facilities (continued)


1. State Parks and Other State Areas, Primarily Recreational.—State parks or related areas established primarily for recreation, ranging in extent from a fraction of an acre to more than 2,000,000 acres, have been established in all but two States. In January 1939, according to figures gathered by the National Park Service, there were 1,397 of these properties, containing a total of 4,342,863 acres, It should be noted that this figure includes the Adirondack and Catskill Parks in New York State. Reference is made to this fact for the reason that these two properties, of which the Adirondack is larger than any other State park in the United States, are frequently included in State forest totals. However, they are used primarily for recreation, and are in fact subject to much more stringent restrictions as to cutting of trees and building of roads and structures—set by the State constitution—than are most State parks.

The properties included in this total are variously designated as parks, monuments, recreational reserves, parkways, historic sites, memorials, and waysides. Each of these terms is subject to wide variation in meaning in the different States, several of which use the designation "park" for recreational and cultural holdings of all sorts. One result of failure to distinguish between the several types of property included in State recreational systems is the tendency to place certain types of development on areas not suitable for them.

Among the different States there are very great variations in the relative adequacy of these State systems. None is as yet fully adequate—not even in New York where the ratio between attendance and population is probably the highest for any State. In numerous States, particularly in the South, this ratio is very low. This condition is due to a combination of several factors, of which the most important are relative inadequacy of areas, unscientific distribution of areas, incomplete development, and—again largely in the South—the newness of the State park idea and consequent lack of public knowledge of what such areas have to offer.

It is estimated that attendance at State parks, monuments, etc., in 38 States during 1938 totaled 70,000,000 persons, with a probable total attendance for all States of approximately 75,000,000.

2. State Forests.—The United States Forest Service reports, as of 1935,1 a total State-owned forest acreage of 15,780,160—a figure which includes the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, but not other forested parks. Much of this, however, is simply in State ownership particularly in some Western States which possess extensive Federal land grants—without being under such organized and perfected administration as is characteristic of State forest management in such States as Pennsylvania or Connecticut, for example.

1 Forest Land Resources, Requirements, Problems and Policy, Part VIII of Supplementary Report of the Land Planning Committee to the National Resources Board, 1935.

Though established for other primary purposes, State forests make a contribution to outdoor recreation of considerable volume and importance, varyingly coordinated with other State recreational facilities such as State parks. Pennsylvania's State forests, more than 1,650,000 acres in extent, provide inhabitants of the Keystone State with almost their only opportunity for what are sometimes referred to as extensive types of recreation. Some portions of them are almost certainly worthy of delimitation as State parks, with the special type of development and administration suited to parks. In Massachusetts, much of the 171,000 acres in State forests is most valuable for recreation and is being extensively developed for it. Thought is being given in the Bay State to the advisability of delimitations and changes in classification, such as seem to be advisable in Pennsylvania, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Indiana, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota are other States with State forests administratively organized and which are utilized to a considerable extent for recreation.

Though 42 States are shown as owners of forest lands, only in relatively few of them, as indicated above, do they make an appreciable contribution to recreation requirements.

3. State Wildlife Areas.—Though in the aggregate there is a considerable acreage of State holdings in the form of public shooting grounds, game and other wildlife refuges, preserves and sanctuaries, game farms, fish hatcheries, etc., established primarily for one or more of those purposes, recreational use of them is a minor factor by comparison with State parks or State forests. Their contribution to recreation a variable but important one is rather that of improving hunting and fishing on other lands, public and private.

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