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The National Park









THE NATIONAL PARK wilderness NPS Arrowhead logo



In 1936 the National Park Service started a study of the recreational needs, and an inventory of the potential recreation areas, of the Nation. Interrupted by the war, this study is again under way as a part of MISSION 66. Already a survey of the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts is completed, and studies of the Pacific Coast and Great Lake regions have started. The object of the National Recreation Plan is to point the way, and to stimulate the establishment of outdoor recreation areas by all levels of government—Federal, State and municipal.

What has this to do with National Parks?

This, for one thing—when enough other outdoor areas are developed to serve the growing need for recreation, pressure to expand developments and extend roads in the National Parks will diminish.

Leisure time is rapidly expanding, much more rapidly than the Nation is providing for its worthwhile use. There is no time to lose if the people of the States and of the Nation are to retain seashores and mountains, forests, rivers, and lakes for their own refreshment and enjoyment. The good use of leisure—use that will strengthen the moral fibre of America—is a responsibility of every level of government. To provide leadership in this direction is the real objective of this program.


The National Parks were established in an atmosphere of high idealism. The men gathered around that wilderness campfire in the Yellowstone the evening of September 19, 1870, started the first major conservation movement in the United States. It was an act of unselfish citizenship that has become an American guidepost to the world in conservation.

It is now 85 years since the idea of National Parks became a reality, and was clearly defined by law. Today, it is fair to claim that nine-tenths of the area within the National Parks can be included under a reasonable definition of wilderness, that the admonition to preserve for the benefit of the people and to pass on unimpaired to future generations has been faithfully carried out.

For the future, we take assurance from the tradition of National Park conservation and the laws which give it strength, from the record of protective management, from the dedication of an alert and loyal group of park employees, from the devotion to the cause of an ever-growing body of citizens, and from the promise of MISSION 66.

The National Parks occupy an incomparable position among the scenic wonders of the world. Americans have inherited a collection of masterpieces. With that heritage is this obligation: To conserve the Nation's scenic and historic treasures, and to prepare the areas of the National Park System for their task—the enjoyment and inspiration of this and future generations.

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Last Modified: Sat, Feb 1 2003 10:00:00 pm PDT

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