Recreational Use of Land in the United States
PROGRAM FOR DEVELOPMENT OF THE NATION'S RECREATIONAL RESOURCES
1. THEORY OF DIVISION OF RESPONSIBILITY FOR RECREATION
In the field of recreation:
(1) What are the responsibilities of the local governments?
(2) What are the responsibilities of the State governments?
(3) What is the responsibility of the Federal Government?
If a certain responsibility for providing recreation falls logically and necessarily on the Federal Government, how should this responsibility be divided among the various branches of the Federal Government?
Because these old questions must be faced again in the relatively new field of recreational planning, they demand reexamination.
Supplying facilities for the day-by-day recreational needs of the people is primarily a local responsibility, whether met by municipalities of sufficient population and wealth to supply all the various types of recreation required, or by county or metropolitan park boards which, dealing with the needs of a group of urban and rural communities, make it possible for each of those communities to enjoy such facilities. Use by outside residents of facilities so supplied and maintained is incidental.
Every State has areas either of such high scenic value or of such high value for active recreation, or both, or possessing such interest from the scientific, archeological, or historical standpoint, that their use tends to be State-wide in character. Acquisition of such areas, and their development and operation, appear to be primarily a function of the State, though this should not preclude joint participation in acquisition, and possibly in development and operation, by the State and, by such community or communities as might receive a high proportion of the benefits flowing from their establishment.
Taking the Nation as a whole, there are, again, areas of such superlative quality, because of their primeval character or scenic excellence, or historical, archeological or scientific importance, or because of some combination of these factors, that they are objects of national significance. It is the responsibility o the Federal Government to acquire and administer these.
The Federal responsibility is particularly emphasized in the case of the primeval wildernesses. There are several reasons for this. Remaining areas of primeval condition are few. Those who live in the regions immediately adjacent to the wilderness are usually pioneers whose lives and thoughts are devoted to wilderness conquest. Hence the Federal eye rather than the local eye must be depended upon to recognize and protect what wildernesses remain. A wilderness reserve ordinarily must be of great size if it is to remain primeval, and the present value may seem insignificant, whereas the deferred value is very great. Take all these conditions and circumstances together, and it is apparent that the monumental task of saving the primeval must be very largely a Federal responsibility.
There is, in addition, another group of areas, the ocean and Great Lakes beaches, which as a group, are heavily freighted with national interest, and are extensively sought by persons living at a great distance from them. It is unlikely that these areas will be acquired by the States to a sufficient extent for the public, and it would appear reasonable to expect the Federal Government to acquire and administer a representative group of them.
The division of responsibility among the several governments seems thus to be susceptible of fairly clear definition. Defining the division of responsibility as it concerns the several departments and bureaus of the Federal Government is more difficult. Several types of federally owned lands, such as national parks and monuments, national forests, Federal wildlife reservations, and Federal reclamation lands, provide recreation. Recreation is the primary objective of national parks and monuments and Federal game refuges, although in the latter areas the recreational value is usually realized elsewhere.
Recreation is a secondary objective of the other types of federally owned lands. The recommendations made at a later point in this report arise from certain principles which are stated as follows:
1. It is a Federal responsibility to develop to their highest usefulness the recreational values inherent not only in national parks and monuments, but in other Federal holdings as well, as long as they remain in Federal ownership.
2. In this development every effort should be made to avoid unnecessary duplication of "special purpose" organizations.
3. There should be constant and conscientious striving toward interbureau and interdepartmental cooperation.
4. Wildlife protection and administration must be coordinated on all holdings if the Federal Government is to be effective in its responsibility to conserve this recreational resource.
5. Commercial objectives should not be permitted to jeopardize the value of lands which are primarily of importance for recreational use.