Parks, Politics, and the People
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Chapter 9:
Mission 66 and the Road to the Future

We confronted another specific problem in Yellowstone National Park. In 1955 the twenty-year concession contracts were soon to expire, and new contracts would have to be negotiated. If we were going to make any changes that might affect the concessionaires, this was the time to consider them. It also presented an opportunity to make sure the plans of the concessionaires and those for the park itself would be in harmony. Arrangements were made for Yellowstone's Superintendent Edmond B. Rogers, its resident landscape architect, Frank Matson, Chief Ranger Otto Brown, and Chief Naturalist Dave Condon to come to Washington and spend a full week with the Mission 66 committee to examine in detail the Yellowstone master plan.

By the first part of April, 1955, it became evident from correspondence received from personnel in the regional offices and the parks that it would be advisable to send Garrison and Carnes, the chairmen of the steering committee and the Mission 66 committee, into the field to give a thorough explanation of Mission 66 and to answer questions. Their schedule included all of the regions and the eastern and western design offices. This tour cleared away many misunderstandings and also created a great deal of enthusiasm among the field people. Appleman wrote of the results: "After these meetings, the several Regional Offices established MISSION 66 Committees within their own organization and scheduled a series of meetings with Park Superintendents and their staffs. In this way, by the end of June, a rather complete indoctrination of the purposes and scope of MISSION 66 had been spread throughout the personnel of the Service. With very few exceptions, Service personnel, from the Director's office to the smallest park staff, proceeded to give their best efforts and thoughts to the project."

On June 27 a third memorandum was sent to the field and set the stage for the next big step of the Mission 66 plan: the preparation of the individual Mission 66 park prospectuses. It outlined some eight other pilot studies to be undertaken, reviewed the work already accomplished, set forth further procedures to be carried out, and described the current activities of the staff. It directed, based on the master plan and further material that had been gathered, that each park staff prepare its own prospectus with whatever assistance it needed from the regional offices and that these drafts be delivered to the Washington office not later than July 20. Because of the difficulty involved in the Everglades National Park prospectus, a Washington conference was arranged as in the case of Yellowstone.

These pilot studies made it clear to us that, despite guiding principles and precepts, people were going to have diverse ideas of what constituted the best and most suitable plan for park development and public use. And each thought that his plan promised the best protection of the parks' unique resources and would provide the most enjoyment for the people. These studies also pointed up again how important the master plans were in drawing up the Mission 66 program, for without them it would have been impossible to organize a sound program. The detail and the in-depth factual material contained in the master plans made it possible for us to formulate policy, administrative, interpretive, and developmental decisions. The main thing we had to do to get Mission 66 on the track was to review these master plans and bring them up to date, since many had not been kept current during World War II and the cold war. (For an account of the master plan conception see Chapter 3.)

On June 30 I told the staff I wanted eight pilot studies finished, legislation blocked out, principles guiding the study written out, and a balanced program drafted and ready for the Public Services Conferences at Great Smoky Mountains September 20. By the time of the meeting we would need an all-inclusive statement and budget for the plan written and reproduced in the form of a brief, popular-style book. It would have to include charts and tables summarizing the more important statistics on visitor use, needs, proposed facilities, and costs; a pictorial presentation of some of the more widespread problems; and a review of the status of Mission 66 and what still had to be done. In July we had a meeting to discuss the nature and format of the Mission 66 report for presentation at the conference. We agreed that we wanted chapters on employee housing, visitor housing, concessions, camping, roads, and administrative facilities and that the document should be a sort of "Bible" for Mission 66 thereafter. We also discussed the task of getting the program ready for submission to Congress by January 1, 1956. Further, we needed a performance-oriented report that would give the total cost of various units of construction. We also needed to prepare legislation to (1) help finance concession activities, principally for providing overnight accommodations; (2) inquire into the feasibility of a contractual authorization for constructing buildings and utilities in the parks; and (3) inquire into the feasibility of establishing a revolving fund for erecting employee housing.

The original concept was to get an omnibus bill introduced in Congress to take care of all Mission 66 needs; however, after much discussion the omnibus bill idea was abandoned in favor of an individual bill for each subject heading so that if one failed all would not be lost. That first year we were to concentrate on several of the small park areas as well as some of the big ones. We figured that if we could get a considerable amount of funding for a small area and complete everything in one year—housing, visitor centers, roads, trails, campgrounds, whatever was necessary—we would demonstrate what we were trying to do.

In our discussions the question of park use fees came up, and I decided against camping fees and stated that I objected also to entrance fees, even though we had been collecting them for years. Fees charged in the parks now for camping and other things are later innovations. At the time Mission 66 began the only fees enforced were entrance fees. We all realized that there was a certain psychological advantage in having people pay a reasonable entrance fee, for it placed a token value on what the visitor was going to see, use, and enjoy—a value that would, we hoped, encourage him to use the park and facilities with care. Further, we reasoned, a person who can afford to drive across the continent should be able to pay a dollar or so as a car entrance fee.

As we went along we were becoming more and more confident that Mission 66 would be a success. By late summer Assistant Director Hillory A. Tolson and I felt we should begin to include some of our first-year estimates for Mission 66 in our 1957 fiscal year appropriation request, which had to be prepared and clear the department and the Bureau of the Budget by the end of 1955 and be submitted to Congress in January, 1956. Our hearings before the congressional committees would start in January or February and we hoped that Congress would act on our request by June 30, because fiscal year 1957 started on July 1, 1956. We just could not wait for the final approval of Mission 66.

By September 15 the staff had completed in time for distribution and use at the Great Smokies conference a twenty-two-page illustrated popular book on Mission 66 entitled Our Heritage and a fifty-three-page Mission 66 report. The first agendum of the conference was a summary of the major purposes of Mission 66. It was emphasized that there were three underlying assumptions: (1) that the service must plan for a total of eighty million visits by 1966; (2) that this visitor load must be accommodated without undue harm to the parks; and (3) that planning for the future must include all existing facilities that were usable. The presentation became the basis for a slide talk with a tape recording that was produced in quantity for circulation in the parks in order to acquaint not only the park staffs but also the public with the plan. The journalists covering the meeting did a very good job of reporting on Mission 66 in influential newspapers throughout the country, including The New York Times. Because of the constant reference to Mission 66 in the daily press, readers were rapidly becoming aware of it and of the National Park Service's plans for the future.

On the evening of May 12, 1955, I received a call at home from Harry Donohue, an assistant to Assistant Secretary Orem Lewis, telling me of a possibility for the Mission 66 plan to be presented to the president at a cabinet meeting. The next day I called the Mission 66 staff together, and told them that there were indications that we would be called upon in the near future to present the whole Mission 66 concept at a cabinet meeting and then later in the fall to present our program of implementation. Our first reaction to the request from the White House was that Mission 66 was a Park Service project, we wanted to do it ourselves, and we did not want higher authorities to lay down any requirements for us. We relied on our own professional ability and judgment. We did keep the department posted on our general progress, but I asked Secretary Douglas McKay and Assistant Secretary Orem Lewis to give us a free hand in this matter, and they did except toward the end.

We were all very curious about how the idea of a cabinet presentation originated. Actually it wasn't until several months after the presentation had been made that anyone in the National Park Service learned just how the whole thing came about. Maxwell M. Rabb, secretary to the cabinet, conceived the idea. He had read an editorial in the Saturday Evening Post describing the deplorable condition of the national parks and the need for improvement and modernization of visitor accommodations. He mentioned it to his assistant, Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., and said he was wondering if the national parks would not be a good subject for cabinet discussion. Patterson volunteered to work on the suggestion with the Interior Department. It soon became apparent that the White House had not known there was such a plan as Mission 66 being prepared.

The preparations for the cabinet presentation took months. As we continued to have one postponement after another, we began to wonder whether we would have to appear before Congress before the president had seen the plan and spoken out on it. We had submitted to the Bureau of the Budget in the late fall of 1955 a supplemental request for funds primarily to get an early start on Mission 66, even though the plan was not completed. We were turned down. The Bureau of the Budget was not against our program but felt that anything pertaining to Mission 66 should be held up until the president had an opportunity to review it and express himself.

In October the budget people were howling for information because they were preparing our 1957 request. We decided that we would go full blast for 1957 as the first year of Mission 66. We needed ten fiscal years to complete Mission 66, and we had to start with the 1957 fiscal year, beginning July 1, 1956, if we were going to get through by 1966, our fiftieth anniversary.

We were planning three Mission 66 documents: (1) a popular-style booklet for general distribution; (2) a detailed official report with statistics, charts, graphs, an explanation of the proposed development and operation program, work load figures, funding requirements, and a format used for appropriation estimates; and (3) a final prospectus for each park. All park officials were requested to begin preparing the data and have them in Washington no later than November 15. Days and nights were spent going over the vast amount of material available, adjusting some of it, eliminating, and adding. We agreed on a brief report—one that could be presented to the public—and gave it the title Our Heritage. It was in color and brief but all-inclusive, with charts. The Creative Arts Studio had the contract and did a good job; however, it was difficult for them to get the feeling, in a few words, of what we were trying to say. In the end, our own Herb Evison worked with a rewrite man for several weeks and got the text into better form. This booklet was not to be released until after our meeting with the cabinet.

Patterson, Jr.
Bradley H. Patterson, Jr., assistant secretary to the cabinet in the Eisenhower administration, is on the left of this group attending a luncheon of the Potomac Corral of the Westerners at the Cosmos Club in Washington, D.C. On Patterson's left are the author and Roy E. Appleman, historian of the National Park Service.

On January 5, 1956, the president included a statement on the parks in his message to Congress on the State of the Union. Very seldom has the Park Service been mentioned in so important a document. The president said: "During the past year the areas of our national parks have been expanded and new wildlife refuges have been created. The visits of our people to the parks have increased much more rapidly than have the facilities to care for them. The administration will submit recommendations to provide more adequate facilities to keep abreast of the increasing interest of our people in the great outdoors." We interpreted his words to mean that we no doubt would get favorable action, and we began to breathe a little easier.

Our material for presentation to the president was carefully reviewed with Brad Patterson, who had visited many of the parks and knew our problems. We made several dry runs of the cabinet presentation, and Patterson was a great help to us. It was unanimously agreed that Secretary McKay would open the presentation with a statement of two or three minutes, after which I would present Mission 66, the problem and the solution. Assistant Secretary Wesley A. D'Ewart would then take two or three minutes to point out the political value of such a program and how it would be received by Congress. As it finally turned out, the Mission 66 presentation was on the cabinet meeting agenda for January 27. In all honesty I don't think any presentation has ever been made before the cabinet, or perhaps anywhere else, that had received so much preparatory attention by so many people as this one.

Sam Dodd, a hearing officer in the Bureau of the Budget, was able to help Bradley Patterson secure Bureau of the Budget approval of Mission 66's fiscal provisions in advance of the cabinet meeting. No one in the Park Service knew of this, however, until everything was over. Patterson had felt that, when the Mission 66 program came before the cabinet, the president would turn to Director of the Budget Roland R. Hughes and ask his opinion of it in relation to the administration's budget. If Hughes had expressed doubt or outright opposition to it, the program in all probability would have come under a cloud in the president's view.

The agenda for the cabinet meeting of January 27 were published at the White House on January 25 and listed four topics for the cabinet's consideration. On Friday, the twenty-seventh, starting at 9:30 A.M., the first item was "The National Parks Mission 66—CP-43/1," and it listed Secretary of the Interior McKay, Assistant Secreatary D'Ewart, and Director Wirth as those giving the presentation. The brief prepared by Patterson and distributed by Max Rabb to the cabinet members was seven pages long on legal-size paper, and two and a half pages of it summarized the projected ten-year program of Mission 66, the needs, and the proposed accomplishments.

I asked Lon Garrison, Bill Carnes, and Howard Stagner to accompany me to the meeting. Stagner was proficient with slide and movie projectors and on him would fall the responsibility of preventing any malfunction of the equipment during my talk. Everything was in order when the cabinet members started arriving around 9:25. I overheard Harold E. Stassen's remark to Henry Cabot Lodge, the ambassador to the United Nations who had come down from New York for the cabinet meeting, "What is this Mission 66—Davy Crockett in Yellowstone?"

Punctually at 9:30 the door to the president's office was opened, and President Eisenhower entered the room. He took a seat at the center of the conference table and the others took their seats. As soon as everyone was seated, the president asked for a moment of prayer. Promptly after this Secretary McKay made his opening statement on Mission 66. Then I outlined the existing problems and set forth the program we proposed to meet them. I spoke for about sixteen minutes and used slides to illustrate the crowded conditions in the parks. Following the slides I showed a three-minute color movie taken in some of the larger parks in June of the preceding summer, illustrating the same theme. After the film I referred to large charts showing the financial schedule and the legislative needs for the program I had just outlined. When I finished Assistant Secretary Wes D'Ewart, drawing on his ten years' experience in Congress, stated that he felt the Congress would support such a program because all its members were concerned with the problem. Then Secretary McKay turned to the president and asked, "Mr. President, and gentlemen of the Cabinet, are there any questions?"

The president spoke up right away and said, "Yes, I have a question. Why was not this request made back in 1953?" The secretary explained that there had been a tight budget that couldn't include it then, but the time was right now to move forward. Some discussion went on about the concessionaires, then cabinet members asked questions about revenues, park fees, matching park development cost, and so forth. One of the members of the cabinet asked why there should not be a charge of $1.00 per visit, which would produce an estimated revenue of $80 million a year. At this point President Eisenhower interjected that he did not think it right to charge visitors fees to the historical and patriotic shrines of the nation, even though it might be justified in a large park in the West. Then he asked how much money we were collecting in entrance fees and we told him it was approximately $5 million a year. President Eisenhower commented that that kind of money didn't mean anything to a program of this kind. He went so far as to suggest that our people should not be bothered with collecting fees. He mentioned Gettysburg National Military Park with all of its entrances and how much it would cost to collect the fees.

After the discussion of about twenty minutes President Eisenhower asked the secretary if he could start the Mission 66 program of improvement for the parks at once. The secretary answered that he could start it as soon as we got the money. The president then said that he approved of the Mission 66 program as a basis for an expanded ten-year development of the national parks and historic sites. He said he would sign a letter to Congress recommending the program but that Secretary McKay would be responsible for presenting and supporting the program before the Congress. That finished up our Mission 66 presentation, and we were escorted out of the room and asked to wait until the cabinet meeting was adjourned, at which time we were to make another presentation to the department cabinet assistants who were regularly called together after each cabinet meeting for an oral briefing by Rabb and Patterson in order to insure full and immediate staff follow-through on cabinet decisions. So we gave a second presentation in the cabinet room at 11:30.

Although the president had indicated that he was in favor of Mission 66, a closing remark he made before going on to the next item on the agenda removed any possible doubt about his approval. He said "This is a good project; let's get on with it." During the discussion following the presentation there was no criticism of Mission 66 whatever, and no reluctance to accept it was expressed by anyone.

The president's letter went forward in the usual way and was received in Congress a few days after the cabinet meeting. Several members of the Senate and House had followed the progress of the Mission 66 study for several months and had taken a very active interest in it. But we had not released to members of Congress any of the plans before the presentation to the president and the cabinet, and so they did not know specifically what the program called for. There had been intimations: Secretary McKay at the dedication of Big Bend National Park, Texas, in November, 1955, had spoken glowingly about Mission 66 and what it would do to help park development, especially at Big Bend. The president's approval removed any question of support by any executive department or agency of the government and provided solid administration endorsement of the Mission 66 program.

When we appeared before the Bureau of the Budget and the committees of Congress, we told them very frankly that our estimates were based on the prices of the day and were believed to be sound but that we reserved the right each year to increase them by the percentage of increase in the cost of labor and materials and that, of course, the overall budget would be increased if and when new areas were added to the park system and therefore became Mission 66 projects. They understood and agreed. Each year we would revamp our estimates based on increased cost data furnished by the Departments of Labor and Commerce. Our total ten-year budget estimate for Mission 66, exclusive of cost increase and the addition of new areas, was $786,545,600. The actual cost of Mission 66 during the ten-year program amounted to over $1 billion. I'm sorry to say we did not complete the program as originally planned because of the growth in the park system during this ten-year period.

As soon as the rush for the White House presentation was over we proceeded to review all the master plans and all the proposed projects and to start a schedule of operations. On February 8 the American Pioneer Dinner was held in the cafeteria of the Interior Department. Approximately sixty members of the Senate and the House of Representatives and their wives accepted the invitation. All the members of the Board of the American Planning and Civic Association attended. Officials of conservation groups and others influential in the conservation field were also invited. The dinner was sponsored jointly by the secretary of the interior, the National Park Service, and the American Automobile Association. The menu featured bison and elk meat furnished by the state park authority of South Dakota. After dinner we presented the Mission 66 program and showed a film entitled "Adventures in the National Parks" that had been prepared for this occasion by Walt Disney. At this meeting we made our first distribution of the booklet entitled Our Heritage, which served as a popular presentation of Mission 66.

Davis, Wirth, Singers
Some of the bison and elk meat donated by the state of South Dakota for the Pioneer Dinner at the Interior Department was checked in by Under Secretary Clarence Davis, Director Wirth, and Mrs. Singer and Russell Singer, executive vice-president of the American Automobile Association. Photo by Abbie Rowe, courtesy National Park Service.

With the highly successful Pioneer Dinner over, the Mission 66 committee was relieved of its duties as rapidly as odds and ends could be cleared up. The steering committee was reorganized and enlarged as the advisory committee for Mission 66. This committee of ten members, with Lon Garrison as chairman, had six field members and its job was to monitor the Mission 66 program. An increased appropriation in 1956 fiscal year had got Mission 66 off to a flying start and that, combined with an increased appropriation of over $19 million for 1957 fiscal year propelled us forward. Our appropriation had been increased from $32,915,000 in 1955 to $68,020,000, a total increase of about $35.5 million, which more than doubled our 1955 budget. In round figures the increase represented $4.25 million in operation funds and $30.75 million in capital improvement funds. This put a heavy burden on our relatively small organization, and the Bureau of the Budget as well as the committees of Congress and the department were watching us very closely. If we failed or didn't produce as we had promised, there was no doubt in my mind that our well-laid plans would be suspended. They might well look for a new director, too.

The Department of the Interior was extremely pleased with what the service had done and awarded the departmental unit award for meritorious service to the Mission 66 committee. The secretary of the interior also presented me the Department of the Interior's Distinguished Service Award.

The guidelines that had been worked out by the Mission 66 committee were revamped slightly as time went along. They were as follows:

1. Preservation of park resources is a basic requirement underlying all park management.

2. Substantial and appropriate use of the National Park System is the best means by which its basic purpose is realized and is the best guarantee of perpetuating the System.

3. Adequate and appropriate developments are required for public use and appreciation of an area, and for prevention of overuse. Visitor experiences which derive from the significant features of the parks without impairing them determine the nature and scope of developments.

4. An adequate information and interpretive service is essential to proper park experience. The principal purpose of such a program is to help the park visitor enjoy the area, and to appreciate and understand it, which leads directly to improved protection through visitor cooperation in caring for the park resources.

5. Concession-type services should be provided only in those areas where required for proper, appropriate park experience, and where these services cannot be furnished satisfactorily in neighboring communities. Exclusive franchises for concessioners services within a park should be granted only where necessary to insure provision for dependable public service.

Wirth, McKay, D'Ewart
The author receiving the Department of the Interior Distinguished Service Award from Secretary Douglas McKay and Assistant Secretary Wes D'Ewart. Photo by Abbie Rowe, courtesy National Park Service.

6. Large wilderness areas should be preserved undeveloped except for simple facilities required for access, back-country use and protection, and in keeping with the wilderness atmosphere.

7. All persons desiring to enter a park area may do so; however it may be necessary to place a limit on the number of visitors who may enter certain prehistoric and historic ruins and structures because of limitations of space or because only a restricted number may safely pass over or through them at one time. Lodging, dining, and camping facilities cannot be guaranteed every visitor.

8. Operating and public-use facilities of both government and concessioners which encroach upon the important park features should be eliminated or relocated at sites of lesser importance, either within or outside the parks.

9. Where airports are needed they should be located outside the park boundaries; and use of aircraft within the areas of the System should be restricted to investigations, protection, rescue, and supply services.

10. Camping is an appropriate and important park visitor use in many parks, and every effort should be made to provide adequate facilities for this use.

11. Picnic grounds should be provided in areas where picnicking is an important element in the visitor day-use pattern.

12. A nation-wide plan for parks and recreation areas as envisioned in the Park, Parkway, and Recreational Area Study Act of 1936 should be completed and implemented as promptly as possible so that each level of government—local, State, and Federal—may bear its share of responsibility in the provision of recreation areas and services.

13. Adequate and modern living quarters for National Park Service employees should be provided when required for effective protection and management. Living quarters for government and concessioner employees, when located within the park, should be concentrated in a planned residential community out of public view.

14. The use of a park for organized events, organized competitive sports, or spectator events which attract abnormal concentrations of visitors and which require facilities, services, and manpower above those needed for normal operation should not be permitted except in the National Capital Parks.

The table on page 261 shows the growth of the national park system over a forty-three-year period. In examining the columns of the table starting with the numbers of areas, it should be noted that in the ten-year period of fiscal years 1957 through 1966 the areas increased by 78, from 180 to 258, or about 42 per cent. The rapid increase in areas actually started around 1961, because the earlier years of Mission 66 were devoted to planning and carrying out the necessary field studies. As these were completed, legislation was submitted to Congress for approval. Many of the areas studied and selected as additions to the national park system as a result of Mission 66 did not get acted upon until several years after Mission 66 had expired. In the five years following the end of Mission 66 another 26 areas were established or authorized, 23 of which were the result of studies started during Mission 66. These areas added up to over 2,600,000 acres, and amongst them were the Seashore and Lakeshore National Recreation Areas, a new classification.

The actual acreage owned by the federal government shows an increase of 1,653,000 acres during the Mission 66 period. Acquiring funds for land acquisition had always been a problem for the service. Traditionally, areas set aside as units of the national park system had to be taken from lands already owned by the federal government or given to the government by other public bodies or by private interests. This policy was often referred to by members of the service, unofficially and off the record, as the "beg, borrow, or steal" method. The land purchase authorization for Cape Cod National Seashore in 1961 changed that policy. Since then all legislation authorizing new areas of the national park system have included land purchase. With the establishment of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in 1964, hundreds of millions of dollars of federal funds were made available for land purchases not only for the National Park Service but also for other federal agencies engaged in conservation and recreation programs, as well as for state and metropolitan park areas. From 1965 through 1973 the service received over $440 million from this source, which is not shown in the table.

of Areas
Funds (000)

1930 5510,9633,265 $ 2,174$ 5,716$ 7,890
193513015,2867,676 6,7995,00011,799
194016121,55116,755 13,0368,06221,098
194516820,47311,714 4,73644,740
195018223,88233,253 15,15714,95430,111
195518123,88956,573 18,69714,21832,915
195618124,89861,602 20,78128,07948,860
195718024,41068,016 22,97645,05668,032
195818024,39865,461 27,60548,40076,005
195918324,49768,900 29,96350,00079,963
196018725,70479,229 32,68247,00079,682
196119225,15886,663 37,87651,52889,404
196219126,00397,045 42,22467,976110,200
196320125,859102,711 48,01772,776120,793
196420326,102111,386 51,38661,697113,083
196521426,549121,312 56,19971,987128,186
196625826,551133,081 61,38066,380127,760
196726327,187139,676 67,74355,323123,066
196827327,971150,836 78,57249,612128,184
196927728,460163,990 81,67421,958103,632
197028228,543172,005 96,45028,627125,077
197128428,731200,543 120,24436,707156,951
197229728,850211,621 133,13399,460232,593
197329828,937222,376 170,66151,087221,748

The column on visitation is interesting because the Mission 66 program was built on the estimated 80 million visits by 1966. That estimate turned out to be off by better than 53 million, or 66 per cent. The visits in 1966 totaled 133 million, an increase of more than 71 million, or 116 per cent, over 1956.

The columns on appropriations show that operation funds increased by over $40 million in the ten-year period, or 200 per cent; and capital improvements funds increased by $38 million, or approximately 136 per cent. We had estimated that for the ten-year period we would need $310,385,600 for operation and $476,160,000 for capital improvements, or a total of $786,545,600. The actual costs of Mission 66, including the head start funds of $15,945,000 that we got in 1956 and the $26,172,000 that we got in 1965 and 1966 for land purchases from the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, amounted to $412,392,000 for operation and $622,833,000 for capital improvements, or a total of $1,035,225,000. The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation contribution is not shown in the table.

It is interesting to note that there was a considerable jump in funding in fiscal year 1956, a year before Mission 66 officially started. That increase of some $17 million was due to anticipation of Mission 66. The Mission 66 request was completed by January, 1956, and the House Appropriations Committee and the Bureau of the Budget, after presidential approval, wanted to get the program started as soon as possible; so they made a supplemental allotment to our 1956 appropriation. But Mission 66 itself officially started on July 1, 1956, the beginning of fiscal year 1957.

There is an interesting sidelight about how we got the first $17 million the year before Mission 66 actually was scheduled to start. We had submitted a supplemental request to the Bureau of the Budget in the fall of 1955 in order to get an early start on Mission 66, but this was held up by the budget authorities. A day or two after the cabinet presentation we appeared before Representative Mike Kirwan's Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations. Mike opened the meeting by saying he had heard about Mission 66, that it sounded good to him, but that he saw nothing in the budget about it. He then asked me, "If I added $5 million to your 1956 appropriation for Mission 66, could you get started?" All I said was, "Yes, sir." A few days later we got a call from the Bureau of the Budget asking us to send them a justification to submit to Congress requesting a $10 million supplement for Mission 66. I told them that they had our request for $12 million that we had sent over in the fall of 1955 and that they could use all or any part of that. About two weeks later I got a call from Mike Kirwan, who wanted to know what I was trying to do to him. He called my attention to his promise to give us $5 million to get started on Mission 66 and asserted that now we were sending up a request for $12 million. I told him what had happened but that I had not seen the request before it went up and really didn't know the Bureau of the Budget had sent it until I got his call. He was very disturbed and told me that if they wanted to play poker that was all right with him. He said he would allow the $12 million they requested but was going to raise them another $5 million. I was not to say anything to anybody about it until the bill was reported out. This was certainly a bit of plain good luck, and of course I did as the chairman requested.


Parks, Politics, and the People
©1980, University of Oklahama Press
wirth2/chap9b.htm — 21-Sep-2004

Copyright © 1980 University of Oklahoma Press, returned to the author in 1984. Offset rights University of Oklahoma Press. Material from this edition may not be reproduced in any manner without the written consent of the heir(s) of the Conrad L. Wirth estate and the University of Oklahoma Press.