Courtesy National Park Service, Department of the Interior





The National Park Service, Department of the Interior

By the act of Congress approved May 22, 1902, Crater Lake and its immediately adjacent mountain lands were set apart from the public domain and dedicated forever as a National Park. It was the seventh national park to be established by the United States Government. The total area of the park is 249 square miles, or 159,360 acres, all of which belongs to the United States except 2,458.11 acres patented to various individuals prior to the establishment of the park.

The organic act of dedication provided for the general preservation of the natural features of the park, but left one opportunity for commercial exploitation of the area. It authorized mining operations under certain conditions. As mining was believed by park protectionists to be incompatible with the primary purposes of a national playground and great museum of scientific and scenic exhibits, and as no mineral deposits had been discovered in the park between 1903 and 1916, in the latter year a bill was enacted by Congress (the act of August 21, 1916,) prohibiting mining operations. In this pro- tective measure other provisions were made for the complete control and protection of the park. Penal- ties were provided for violations of the Federal law and regulations governing the park, and authority was granted for the establishment of a United States Commissioner’s court for handling offenses of all kinds not within the class of felonies, which if committed within the park must always be tried in a United States District Court.

Another law, approved August 25, 1916, which we know as the National Park Service Act, provided machinery for the proper administration and prole tection of the park system in the shape of a small bureau in the Interior Department charged with the sole duty of protecting, promoting and developing these playgrounds in the public interest. Among other things this National Park Service Act contains the following:

“The Service thus established shall promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as Nahe tional Parks, monuments, and reservations, hereinx- after specified, by such means and measures as con-form to the fundamental purpose of the said parks, monuments, and reservations, which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

This declaration by Congress is the supreme law of the park system today, and every act of the Bureau of which I have the honor to be the head must be in complete accord with this mandate.

In order that the scope of authority of the Naitional Park Service under this broad declaration by Congress might be more definitely prescribed and particularized, there was drawn up and adopted under the direction of the late Secretary Lane a policy of park management and control, which is based on the law just discussed and on the following three principles:

First-That the national parks must be maintained in absolutely unimpaired form for the use of future generations as well as those of our own time;

Second-That they are set apart for the use, observation, health and pleasure of the people;

Third-That the national interest must dictate all decisions affecting public or private enterprise in the parks.

More detailed discussion of this matter of conservation policy may proceed with special reference to Crater Lake National Park.

First, let us take up the question of the use of the Park. Everybody may use it, but not for private exploitation. No class of people is excluded except known or suspected violators of the law or regulations. There is equal opportunity for all to come and enjoy the park in their own way. Facilities are provided for travelers who do not carry their own equipment, and, to make these available, franchises under authority of the National Park Service act are granted to a public utility, which is obligated to provide transportation, hotel, camp, and other service. The majority of visitors, however, bring their own camping equipment with them, and for these people camp grounds with water supply, comfort stations and wood have been provided.

Automobiles are permitted on all roads, but a season permit to bring an automobile into the park costs $2.50. This charge is made in accordance with the views of the Appropriations Committee of Congress that, where large expenditures of Federal money have been necessary in rebuilding and improving roads to make them suitable for automobile travel, the users of these roads should pay something toward their upkeep. Congress insists that developed parks should show a reasonable amount of revenue each year.

The policy governing the granting of franchises should be given special mention, as it may be misunderstood. Briefly, I may describe it as similar to the policy prevailing in most American cities in re- spect to telephone and street car privileges. A Gov- e ernment regulated and controlled utility is estab- e lished; first, in order that there may be control of rates and service in the public interest, and, second, in order that protection may be given to investment in physical property, thus insuring adequate returns to the investor and making possible continual extension of facilities in order to meet increasing demands.