The National Environmental Policy Act Was Established in 1965

Cover to America's National Park Service: The Critical Documents

Cover Folio

Carte du jour

Table of Contents


The Early Years,

Defining The System,

The New Deal Years,

The Poverty Years,

Questions of
Resource Management

The Ecological Revolution

Transformation and

A Arrangement Threatened,


Summaries of
Lengthy Documents

About the Editor

America’southward National Park Organisation:

The Critical Documents

Chapter 6:
The Ecological Revolution: 1964 – 1969

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The Ecological Revolution

Adoption of the Leopold study’due south recommendations as well as continued pressure to diversify the organization to include recreation as well as preservation strained a National Park Service already undergoing change and growth from Mission 66. In the side by side six years these two issues would demand continual adjustment and reinterpretation. Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall signaled the new tone with his 1964 letter on national park management. In it the secretary reaffirmed the Leopold report as a guideline and differentiated the direction prescriptions for natural, historic, and recreational areas. The latter was a tacit admission of the growing complexity of the agency’s mission.

That complexity would increment over the next several years. A spider web of legislation further diversified the contents and duties of the system as well every bit the strictures it would exist required to follow. First came the Wilderness Human activity of 1964 over the resistance of the Park Service. The agency had long argued that its application to parks was redundant because they were already managed for roadless preservation. In fact, the Wilderness Human activity, where implemented, added a legal buffer against the possibility of further projects like Tioga Route in Yosemite National Park.

The following year saw the addition of two more laws of profound importance. Offset came the landmark Land and Water Conservation Fund Act which established a fund for acquisition of new recreation lands either within or side by side to existing park units or as new parks themselves. A portion of the coin to be provided to the fund would come from fees charged at existing parks. Congress also chose that year to further define the always frail policy of individual enterprise in the parks with the Concession Policies Act of 1965. Although Mather’due south ideas of monopoly concessions with first rights of contract renewal were maintained, the new constabulary reiterated the stipulation that concession operations be of minimum area and extent necessary and specified that the government could forcefulness a motion of such operations to another location upon payment of compensatory funds.

In 1966 the complicated duties of the National Park Service with regard to historical sites and structures would exist magnified by passage of the National Historic Preservation Act. This authorized the Secretary of the Interior to create and maintain a national register of celebrated districts, sites, and structures and to constitute programs of matching grants to states and to the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The National Park Service became the coordinating bureau for these activities and its director the executive manager of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation.

In 1967 the Clean Air Human action (summarized in the Appendix) laid another layer of protection on the parks only also demanded management compliance. Identified as areas of desired maximum air purity, the parks’ airsheds would presumably be more than tightly constrained in production of pollutants. The parks themselves would fall under this legislation withal, necessitating additional planning in the incipient fire program.

The following year, 1968, saw a flurry of important legislation and policy statements standing the rapid evolution of the park arrangement and its direction program. Ii laws, the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act and the National Trails System Act, farther diversified the units managed by the Park Service. The rivers act in particular has added extensively to the arrangement and created long, sinuous areas with complicated direction bug.

Secretary Udall’south 1964 prescription for separate authoritative policies for areas of natural, historic, and recreation protection became reality in 1968. Three handbooks specifying general policy purposes and specific prescriptions for common problems, and containing appendixes of related legislation and bureau orders, sought to cope with the confusing myriad of duties and responsibilities the agency faced.

While this flurry of legislative and policy maneuvering occupied Washington, D.C., the parks continued to adapt to the Leopold report and its attendant infusion of scientists and natural resource programs. At Sequoia National Park decades of vigorous protection of giant sequoias from fire had halted reproduction of the species. Acting on the advice of one of Stanley Cain’s students, the park administration experimented with controlled burns in 1964. The success of those trial burns led in 1968 to a policy for their continuation in the woods ecosystems of the park. This adoption of systematic provision of burn in a forest marked a substantive turning betoken in resource protection in the parks.

The final law of this busy period was mayhap the uttermost reaching of all. The National Ecology Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) forms the bones national lease for environmental protection. Information technology ordered federal agencies to carry out their duties in such a way every bit to avoid or minimize environmental degradation. It required those agencies to conduct planning with studies of potential environmental impact for all development projects. The planning procedure, further, was to exist open for public input. This latter provision was to have boggling results as conservation organizations in particular became powerful players at the required hearings. NEPA rounded out a short menstruum during which the duties and ground rules of the NPS evolved with dizzying speed especially for onetime-time employees, hired at a time when the parks were afar, serene enclaves of natural landscape architecture.

THE Disquisitional DOCUMENTS

Secretary Udall’s Letter on National Park Management, 1964

Wilderness Human activity, 1964

Country and H2o Conservation Fund Act, 1965

Concession Policies Deed, 1965

National Historic Preservation Act, 1966

Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, 1968

National Trails Organization Human action, 1968

Authoritative Policies for Recreation Areas, 1968

Authoritative Policies for Historic Areas, 1968

Administrative Policies for Natural Areas, 1968

Plan for Apply of Fire in Ecosystem Management, 1968

National Environmental Policy Human action, 1969


Concluding Modified: October 25, 2000 ten:00:00 am PST

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The National Environmental Policy Act Was Established in 1965


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