Proceedings of the First Park Naturalists’ Training Conference, November 1 to 30, 1929




By C. Frank Brockman

The research reserve is the junction of the scientific and educational phases of the park program and as such it may or may not necessarily be areas that are totally obscured from contact of the public. In some cases this divorcing of the area from the public — particularly in the case of forestry or botanical study areas — but in the case of, say study areas which are related to glacial movement and recession, this may not be necessary if adequate and permanent points of observation are erected and maintained. Likewise, the size of such study areas or research reserves depends upon the project. Glacial studies may require but a number of established cairns or points from which to make observations; one to five acres may be sufficient in observing phenological and forestry data while wild life observations may require vast areas — possibly in some cases embodying the entire park.

It is suggested that each park naturalist in making out his list of possible projects for future study, include in such enumeration his suggestions for the establishment of research reserves, if they are required, or the manner in which such studies that will be of value to the educational and administrative activities of the park as well as to science, may be carried on. This will no doubt require collaberation with recognized authorities in the various fields, but at any rate, an effort should be made to place this feature of the park work on a sound, continuous and valuable basis. I do not believe that any definite requirements can be laid down as to the size and method of handling these areas, but they should be established, maintained and utilized with a scientific purpose in mind. They are primarily experimental projects and their method of handling depends entirely upon the project itself.


Following the papers by Messrs. Yeager and Brockman, introducing the subject of Research Reserves, the discussions centered upon some of the general aspects of such research areas. Besides the park naturalists, the following visitors were also present:

Mr. John D. Coffman, Fire Control Expert, National Park Service
Mr. Stephen N. Wyckoff, in charge of Blister-Rust Control in the West
Mr. Fred J. Foster, Bureau of Fisheries
Mr. L. A. Barrett, Assistant District Forester, United States Forest Service.

All research problems need not be confined to research reserves. There are many field problems, such as the study of nesting habits of birds, study of food habits of animals, etc., which can be solved in various localities other than established research reserves. Only areas should be set aside where the balance of nature would be upset by human intrusion.

The point was brought out that the first area set aside primarily for research in Yosemite National Park was established several years ago and has been called a “wilderness reserve.” It was agreed that such research areas should hereafter be called “research reserves” in order that the designation coincide with that in current use by the Forest Service, the Forest Experiment Stations, and other institutions.

The term “wilderness area” is applied by the above organizations to primitive areas penetrated only by trail and guarded against other physical development. It was agreed that it would be advisable to use the same term for similar areas in the national parks which will be reserved for pack train and knapsack campers and where roads and buildings will be excluded.

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