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ANNUAL REPORT OF THE DIRECTOR OF
THE NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE,
Washington, D. C., October 8, 1924. SIR: This eighth annual report of the National Park Service covers briefly the tourist season just concluded and the fiscal affairs of the bureau for the year ended June 30 last.
I am very much gratified to be able to report to you, Mr. Secretary, that in every branch of our park activities during the season just closed we have achieved successful results that will be directly beneficial to the parks themselves and also inure to the benefit and enjoyment of visitors in the future.
TRAVEL INCREASES DESPITE ADVERSE CONDITIONS
While not showing the large increase in park travel that we had expected and had prepared for, because of adverse conditions in some localities and the general tightness of money throughout the country, nevertheless we can point to a very substantial gain over the sum total for last season. In California the severe outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and stories of extensive forest fires within the State retarded tourist travel, and these causes were reflected particularly in the reduction of visitors to the Yosemite, bringing the record in that park below last year's. The total for the season in all the national parks and monuments was 1,670,908, compared with 1,493,712 for last season. It evidences conclusively a larger use of the national parks from year to year.
THE ONE FEDERAL AGENCY PROMOTING TRAVEL
The National Park Service is the one agency of the Federal Government that has been actively engaged for the past eight years in developing the tourist business in this country in the attempt to get our people to see the beauties of their own country, and the national parks first of all. Established by Congress on August 25, 1916, and organized for effective business early in the following year, it has been striving by diligent and persistent publicity to bring the supreme natural exhibits of our country vividly to the attention of the American people.
The bureau was created primarily to “promote and regulate the use of the Federal areas known as national parks, monuments, and reservations
by such means and measures as conform to the fundamental purposes of said parks, monuments, and reserva
tions, 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, then, has been its main endeavor. Economically, however, the results of its efforts went a great deal further. The tourist business is now recognized as one of the great money-making industries all over the world. There is probably no other industry that imparts as much genuine pleasure and satisfaction for the money laid out. Millions upon millions are annually spent in journeying, which has its compensation not only in enrichment of life and living from a.pastime standpoint but also in developing the health and enlarging the general education of the human being.
FOREIGN COMPETITION FOR TRAVEL AGGRESSIVE
The tourist business has for many decades been recognized by foreign countries as an important revenue producer, and no effort has been overlooked, by judicious advertising and by subsidizing steamship lines, to bring visitors to their shores to view the scenic and historic attractions. Tourist bureaus for inducing European travel since the war have sprung up like mushrooms in our larger cities, particularly in the East. France and Spain have established Government tourist bureaus, and Germany and Italy are well along in their plans for establishing similar service. Alluring advertisements to the American traveler to visit the war-torn fields of central Europe meet the eye everywhere. Not a single opportunity has been missed to expand the business to the old-time proportions that served to fill their coffers. Small Switzerland lives on practically nothing else than the income from selling her scenery. Furthermore, the national park movement in this country has been so successful that foreign countries, in an effort to enlarge on the opportunities for sightseeing presented their own people and visitors, have begun the creation of national parks within their own borders as travel objectives. The Canadian and Australian national parks, modeled after our own, present some of the greatest assets of those countries. Japan has been sending its expert investigators through our national parks for three or four years, and as a result several national parks have been projected, patterned after our own. Our Latin-American brothers to the south have made a beginning on national parks.
TRAVEL AT HOME AND ABROAD
All of these examples emphasize the tremendous value, both from an idealistic and a dollars-and-cents standpoint, of our national park system, which holds the most supreme, and stupendous, and spectacular of our natural scenery. The establishment of the National Park Service in 1916, therefore, presented fine opportunities for furthering the economic development of the country through developing the national parks as the great recreation grounds of the country. A few statistics in this connection will be generally interesting. Figures recently gathered of departures of American citizens from United States Atlantic ports from 1913 to 1923 compared with national park and monument travel during those years are given in the following table :
Foreign travel figures are not available. These figures tell an important story.
THE DEMAND FOR NEW NATIONAL PARKS
The acknowledged popularity of the present national parks and their value economically to neighboring territory in particular, as well as to the entire country in general, has resulted in vigorous demand by various localities in sections where there are no national parks for the creation of parks to include areas that appear to them to have merit for such distinction. Annually many bills are introduced in Congress for new national parks. The Government has been generously responsive to the general demand for the proper protection of scenic points of supreme public interest. States and counties are falling into line by conserving areas that have great local value as recreation places for their rapidly increasing population. We can not have too many breathing spaces reserved for our people and if we do not look toward the future by the setting aside of State and county and national parks the Nation will find itself in the position of many large cities that now have to pay a high price for the lack of foresight of their founders in not setting aside sufficient areas to serve as parks and breathing spaces for their rapidly congesting population. Parks can be enjoyed by everybody and it will be wise to preserve every place that can be secured even if it takes an effort and some money. Coming generations will thank those who now assume this as an obligation and duty.
PRESENT SYSTEM WISELY DEVELOPED
The present national park system has, however, been built upon a special foundation. In general the policy of considering and admitting to the system only those areas giving expression to the highest types of scenery has been quite consistently followed. The national park system has been developed along wise and sane lines and it will take wise and sane judgment to resist the demand for inclusion of areas that do not measure up in the highest terms to the high standard that has been set for that system. Only after the most careful and painstaking investigation on the part of experts, either officials of the department and the National Park Service themselves, or by special committees of private citizens who are expert on park matters, followed by a reviewing investigation of Government officials, should new areas be favorably considered. There are many important problems of policy and administration that must be determined and settled before the stamp of approval can be affixed. The problem involved by the inclusion of private land in park areas is a serious and important one. Of far greater importance, however, is the necessity of avoiding a duplication of exhibits in the park system. There is no duplication at present and we must build with circumspection.
FURTHER POSSIBILITIES CONSIDERED
In reviewing the possibilities for further national park creation west of the Mississippi I can see very few additional areas that should be considered. There is no doubt that a typical section of the forest growth of northern California, including particularly the Sequoia Sempervirens, should be included in a Redwood National. Park. The Save-the-Redwoods League of California has accomplished remarkably successful results in the preservation of stands of this majestic forest giant, and an act, Public No. 871 of the Sixtysixth Congress, authorized the investigation of the availability of a suitable tract for national park purposes. I am hopeful that this park will become an accomplished fact within a few years. An area including and adjoining the Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico merits thoughtful consideration. A typical section of the “bad lands" of the Dakotas or Wyoming and a similar exhibit of the southwestern desert area with all its wonderful desert growth present possibilities for consideration. This review does not include any enlargement of existing parks or rectification of their boundaries.
East of the Mississippi we are going to encounter difficulties in the creation of national parks, for the reason that practically all areas have long been in private ownership. The settling of the Atlantic seaboard in the beginning of our Nation resulted in the distribution of land by sovereign grant and otherwise, which in the ensuing years alienated all the eastern Government-owned land. All the national parks, with the exception of Lafayette in Maine, which was built up from donations, by public-spirited private citizens, of land or money from which land could be purchased, have been carved from the public domain by special acts of Congress. Consequently the Congress will doubtless have to make appropriations of Federal funds for the acquisition of land for national park purposes if the popular demand is to be met for the creation of a few national parks in the crowded East, where they are so badly needed. Under the Weeks Act the Government has been enabled to purchase lands for forest and stream protection in many eastern sections.
A STUDY OF THE SOUTHERN APPALACHIANS
At this writing you are, through the medium of a commission composed of five of the highest private experts on park matters in the country, making a careful study of the Southern Appalachian Mountains for the selection of the most typical section which could be recommended to Congress for a suitable national park site. Every indication is favorable to such recommendation for a permanent national museum of nature, established in the most scenic section of the Southeast.' I believe the South stands strongly and broadly for such a park wherever it may eventually be located and that purely local interests will be subordinated to achieve this remarkable opportunity. The selection of this park must be based on merit and merit alone. Its establishment will benefit every State in the South and East.
ISLE ROYALE A MERITORIOUS PROJECT
Another area in the East that has been submitted for investigation as to its availability for national park or monument status is Isle Royale, an island of 132,000 acres in Lake Superior, containing unusually fine virgin forests and abundant other plant and animal life. In view of assurances that privately owned land on the island would be turned over to the United States in case it is created a national monument, I personally investigated this area early in July Interested citizens of Michigan and Minnesota are earnestly at work on this project, led by the enthusiastic example of the Detroit News, which has been taking the initiative in this matter, and I am very sanguine of favorable action. It is a meritorious project.
PRINCIPLE OF COMPLETE CONSERVATION GOVERNS PARKS
In the past few years in particular determined efforts have been made by private interests to invade some of the national parks for the utilization of some of their wonderful lakes, rivers, and spectacular waterfalls. Promoters of local power projects were after park waters for power and neighborhood ranchers after them for irrigation. The Yellowstone had to bear the brunt of such attacks. That park was surveyed from one end to the other. There was hardly a lake of considerable size or a portion of the park that was not affected in the campaign that appeared to be launched to secure a foothold. During the past year, however, these attempts were limited to three, one of which contemplated the damming of the Yellowstone Lake and the other two simply meant the excision of a very small section or part of the Rocky Mountain and Yosemite National Parks and their restoration to national forest status.
It should be observed that the Federal water power bill contained a provision permitting the use of national parks and monuments for water power purposes but due to the presentations made by this department that act was later amended on March 3, 1921, withdrawing all existing parks and monuments from the scope of that act, It is now necessary, therefore, that before areas of any park or monument can be utilized for water power or irrigation purposes, a special act permitting such use must be passed by the Congress. This provision has proven of inestimable value.
SMALL AREAS MORE VALUABLE FOR ECONOMIC USE ELIMINATED
During the last session two bills, H, R. 6121 and Public No. 172, were introduced for the excision of a small portion of two parks, the Yosemite and the Rocky Mountain, and comprising 25 and 345 acres, respectively, to permit their restoration to national forest status and its utilization thereby, under Forest Service regulations, for economic purposes. Both of these cases were thoroughly inves