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Historic Sites
Economic Aspects


Federal Lands
State and Interstate


Division of Responsibility


Educational Opportunities

Recreational Use of Land in the United States

State and Interstate Systems

Either through passage of some form of enabling legislation or through actual acquisition of lands all but two of the States have recognized that provision of facilities for recreation is a legitimate function of State government.

The responsibility of the State appears to be to acquire, develop, and maintain for public use and enjoyment such areas of land and water as will meet with reasonable adequacy such needs of its own people for inspiration, nature education, and active recreation, and other recreational needs as are not the responsibility of local political subdivisions or of the Government of the United States.

In advance of preparation of this section, a number of men and women, possessing either long experience in State park administration, or serious students of the whole broad subject of recreation, were consulted with respect to certain important problems related to State administration of lands and waters for recreational purposes. Most of the recommendations which follow arise more or less directly from the comments made by this group.

Classification of Holdings

The majority of those persons consulted were agreed that some form of classification of State recreational holdings was desirable, though the suggested classifications submitted by them varied widely in number and definition. Consideration of the subject on the basis of their replies and of first-hand knowledge of the existing situation appeared to indicate the desirability of comparatively few designations, with as clear cut distinction as possible between the various types, and with a nomenclature uncomplicated and most likely to be accepted fairly readily by the public.

As one means of assuring suitable administration practice with respect to each classification or type, and in order that the using public may have a reasonably definite concept of the character of the various types, it would be well for the several agencies of the States entrusted with administration of lands and waters set aside primarily or wholly for leisure time use, to give serious consideration to the following proposed classification of such properties:

State Parks.—State parks are those areas of considerable extent in which are combined either superlative scenic characteristics and a fairly varied opportunity for active recreation or distinctive scenic character and exceptional opportunity for active recreation.

Essential to the character of any State park is the preservation of the native landscape and of native fauna to the extent that provision and enjoyment of active recreation-use facilities shall not be permitted to destroy or materially to impair valuable landscape features or to injure wildlife or its natural habitat; and further that all of its natural resources shall be withheld from commercial utilization.

State Recreation Reserves.—State recreation reserves are those areas which, lacking scenic distinction, supply such opportunity for active recreation as entitles them to be considered a part of the State's responsibility.

State Monuments.—State monuments are those holdings established for public use wholly or dominantly because of their historic, archeological, or scientific interest on which even the simplest types of active recreation, if permitted at all, are subordinated to the primary purpose for which such monuments are established.

State Waysides.—State waysides are those small areas situated along or close to highways, administered by the highway department in cooperation with the park administrative agency. They are designed to provide the highway traveler with places where he may stop to rest and to picnic and are so located as to escape the annoyances of highway traffic. These should be distinguished from extensions of the highway right-of-way acquired to include and preserve natural features which contribute to the attractiveness of the highway, but which are not designed for use as stopping places. They should also be distinguished from highway stopping places or turn-outs designed primarily to provide locations where cars may be stopped off the highway while their occupants enjoy some distant view at their leisure.

State Parkways.—State parkways probably need no definition beyond calling attention to the fact that they embrace an elongated park with a road running through it—in contradistinction to a highway possessing a broad right-of-way. In the case of the parkway, access is wholly under control of the administrative agency; in the case of the highway, abutting property owners possess definite rights of access.

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Last Modified: Fri, Sep. 5, 2003 10:32:22 am PDT

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