03 How the Committee Conducted Its Study

National Academy of Sciences Advisory Committee on Research in the National Parks: The Robbins Report

How the Committee Conducted Its Study

The Committee held five meetings.

The first was held in Washington, D.C., December 7-8, 1962, where it was addressed by Park Service officials, including Director Conrad Wirth, Assistant Director Jackson Price, and Howard Eckles, Assistant to the Secretary’s Science Advisor.

The second meeting, combined with a field trip, was held in Everglades National Park, January 10-12, 1963.

On the evening of January 10, the Committee was briefed on research problems of the Everglades, and on the following day it made an extensive tour of the park, including an airplane inspection as well as on-the-ground visits to some of the park’s more critical spots, such as water diversion projects, deteriorating bird refuges, experimental controlled-fire burns, various areas which show vegetation changes and effects of fire, hurricanes, and flooding.

The third meeting was held in Washington, D.C., March 8-9, 1963, where the Committee discussed organization and staffing of the Park Service Research unit.

The fourth meeting was held in Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, June 14, 15, and 16. An executive session of the Committee was held at Jackson Lake Lodge, Sunday, June 16. During the preceding two days, the Committee made a tour of approximately 200 miles in the two parks. At various inspection points in the Yellowstone Park, the Committee was briefed on such topics as the fisheries studies in Yellowstone Lake, grizzly bear ecology and elk migration studies, the biology of the Northern Yellowstone elk herd, northern winter range studies, black bear distribution, the hydrobiology of Madison River and headwater streams and hydrothermal problems.

In Grand Teton National Park the Committee discussed with officials such problems as the impact of visitors on the Park (visits increased from 144,000 in 1946 to 1,800,000 in 1962); the ski and snowplane, and other mass recreational areas; the geology of the Teton Range; forest pest control; the national elk refuge, and the Jackson Hole Biological Research Station which has about 20 researchers in alpine ecological problems, range-type studies and other problems. The Committee was briefed also on places for proposed location of roads and facilities in accordance with preservation of park features. The fifth and concluding meeting was held in Washington, July 19, when the Committee considered a final report.

During the course of its investigation the Committee, individually and collectively, consulted with upwards of 100 persons with special competence in its field of inquiry, including Park Service officials and employees, representatives of other Federal agencies, scientists with State and local institutions and agencies, and private investigators. The resources of the National Academy of Sciences – National Research Council were made available to the Committee, as well as those of the National Science Foundation. The Committee consulted books, papers, reports and memoranda on the parks. Individual members visited many parks, other than the three mentioned, and one member visited all of them.

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