Page images
PDF
EPUB

United States industry was to prove capable of meeting the heavy demand for vitamin-A oils. Only in the fresh fish field was the supply commensurate with the need, and even fresh fish became scarce in 1945, owing to the extreme shortage of meat and consequent heavy demand for fish. It should be remembered, however, that the actual wartime needs for fish were far in excess of any previous production in the history of the industry; that the production achieved by the industry in the last 2 years of the war would have been considered excellent by any previous standards. Probably no other nation in the world was able to maintain its wartime production of fish so well. It is a matter of record that most of the European fisheries were shattered, their fleets destroyed, their shore facilities wrecked, their accustomed fishing waters sown with mines. Most Asiatic fisheries were affected in similar fashion. The wartime difficulties suffered by the fisheries of the United States differed in character and in degree from those of most of the belligerents, but the impediments to operation, especially in the early years of war, were none the less real. The wartime achievements of the fishing industry are a record of distinguished service, and a testimony to what may be accomplished by cooperation in a common cause between Government and industry.

NEWTON B. DRURY, Director

THE increase of travel to the national park system areas after VE'day gave an intimation of postwar responsibilities that face the Service. This report, then, is not solely one of progress or accomplishment; it is also an analysis of the status quo in search of a workable plan to meet the immediate needs of millions of war-weary Americans, while serving their future needs by according the fullest degree of protection to the heritage embodied in the National Park System.

SERVICE HAS BEEN HOLDING THE LINE

This has all been recognized by Chairman Jed Johnson, of the Interior Department Subcommittee of the House of Representatives' Appropriations Committee. In discussing reductions in the 1946 estimates of funds for the national park system, he said: "America's entry into the war affected the National Park Service far more than any other agency within the entire Department * * *. The Service is to be commended for the spirit with which it has carried on under extremely adverse circumstances." The circumstances may be illustrated most effectively, perhaps, by the following tabulation comparing allotments provided and services rendered during the last prewar year (1941) with those of the war years:

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Examples of the difficulties of wartime operation are many. A few might here be given. In Glacier National Park, where the forest fire danger is high, there are 1,085 miles of fire-fighting and tourist trails which bave to be opened not once, but several times yearly. Only by means of camps of conscientious objectors assigned by the War

Department was it possible to maintain these trails in usable condition. In Hawaii National Park, with extremely heavy visitation of armed forces personnel, the greatly reduced staff was inadequate even to maintain trails and comfort stations or provide police and fire protection.

In September, the most severe hurricane in 40 years whipped the Atlantic coast, seriously damaging several Service areas. At Fort Raleigh National Historic Site, as an example, between 70 and 80 trees were blown down and the 'palisade fence surrounding 16 acres was flattened. Only through $1,195 of emergency reconstruction and fighting forest fires funds was it possible to accomplish such repairs as could be made. At Petrified Forest National Monument, lack of maintenance men made it necessary to utilize protective personnel, badly needed to prevent vandalism and theft of petrified wood, in emergency maintenance of the power plant, water system, and other facilities. These situations are typical of the entire national park system, but the ingenuity and cooperation of our employees enabled us to keep the numerous units of the System in operation and open to visitors, many of them in the service of the United Nations.

Passage of the peak in the program of organizing the Nation's resources for war and the progress of the war toward its victorious end resulted in a sharp decline in applications for military and other wartime uses of Service-administered areas during the past year. Only 455 new special use permits were granted, 228 previously issued permits were continued, and 602 were terminated. In all, 2,396 war use permits have been issued for national park areas.

Although the work of the National Park Service was not considered to be tied in directly with the prosecution of the war, the areas it administers provided much-sought recreational opportunities for members of the armed forces and those engaged in war industry, and it is also fair to say that the system through war permits made its appropriate contribution to the victory. The use of park lands for military purposes made unnecessary the purchase of other lands, so that there was an estimated saving of approximately $30,000,000 of the funds of the Army, the Navy, and other war. agencies that otherwise would have been expended for land. Yet there was little destruction of park properties through these emergency uses. Under mining permits, as a matter of critical war necessity, tungsten was obtained from an isolated section of Yosemite National Park, in accordance with the previously announced attitude toward such proposals. The national parks, it is believed, are not the places in which to experiment with new developments in transportation. Aside from the fact that safe locations for landing strips are few in the rugged western parks, it is doubtful if such facilities within the parks would provide material advantages over those which might be established at short distances beyond their borders. Railheads are generally outside the parks. The same should be true of airports.

Two pending legislative proposals, in addition to those directed at Jackson Hole National Monument and the Antiquities Act, would or could affect certain Service-administered areas adversely. The bills providing for the establishment of a Missouri Valley Authority (S. 555 and H. R. 2203) contain no provision exempting Yellowstone, Glacier and other units of the national park system situated in the Missouri Basin from the construction of water-control structures within them or that would impound waters inside their boundaries. A threat to the historical atmosphere and the Colonial character of Colonial National Historical Park is found in the Bland bill (H. R. 26) which would authorize the construction of a lofty suspension bridge across the York River at Yorktown, of which the elevated southern approach would be constructed on park lands. The Secretary of the Interior and the Service have endeavored to meet this threat by pointing out the advantages of other locations for the proposed bridge.

Those who appreciate the charm of the old Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, now a part of the National Capital Park system, and the scenic values of the Potomac Valley, including the Great Falls, a short distance above Washington, were heartened by the strong protests registered against the Corps of Engineers' proposal to construct a series of flood-control power dams along the course of the Potomac, and the consequent decision against this proposal.

TRAVEL TO NATIONAL PARK AREAS INCREASING

Tbe fact that, despite tightened rationing of gasoline and a Nationwide campaign to reduce civilian use of common carriers to make room for war transport, the number of visitors to units of the national park system increased from 7,460,185 (during the year ending June 30, 1944, to 8,546,316 for the year ending June 30, 1945, indicates the pressure for services and accommodations under which the greatly reduced staffs of the National Park Service and of the concessionaires had to operate, Many of the visitors were war industry workers and their families moving to other jobs, and uniformed personnel of the armed forces traveling between stations or coming in groups to the parks and monuments for rest, recreation, or recuperation.

Throughout the year, the policy of refraining from all activities which would tend to promote travel was continued. No effort will be devoted to that end in the near future. It need not be. After the war many areas in the System will have many more visitors than can be accommodated satisfactorily with existing facilities. Effort needs to be directed rather toward effecting a more even distribution of travel, so that peaks may be at least partly leveled off, and more visitors may derive greater enjoyment from their visits than can be obtained during the crowded periods.

A statistical tabulation of areas and the volume of travel to each appears on pages 228 to 231 inclusive.

CONCESSIONAIRES FACE WARTIME DIFFICULTIES Concessionaires continued to operate on a limited scale throughout the year. In areas near war activity centers they encountered great difficulty in meeting demands because of manpower and food supply shortages. As required by their contracts, concessionaires furnished limited services such as stores, meal and sleeping accommodations, and other requirements, in areas where distinct need was manifest. All OPA rules and regulations with respect to ceilings and food and gasoline rationing were applied in national parks as elsewhere. The Service worked with the concessionaires in meeting problems caused by drastic fluctuations in the volume of service. In two specific cases, with approval of the Comptroller General, concessionaires were authorized to terminate or temporarily suspend services called for by their contracts.

The Western Conference of National Park Concessionaires met in Los Angeles on April 24-25, with the Director and a few officials of the Service in attendance, for discussion of such subjects as employee wages and hours, sale of souvenirs, public health, postwar travel trends, and postwar planning of accommodations.

National Park Concessions, Inc., a nonprofit distributing corporation, continued to furnish facilities at Mammoth Cave, Isle Royale, and Olympic National Parks. It did not operate on the Blue Ridge Parkway nor in Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site because of war conditions, but will start operations at these places and in Big Bend National Park whenever postwar relaxations permit the construction of needed accommodations.

LIMITED ADVANCE PLANNING ACCOMPLISHED The "closed for-the-duration" status of development and construction continued, and planning activities have dealt primarily with preparation for transition from wartime restrictions to normal postwar activities. This standstill in development provided an opportunity to appraise past efforts and to make definite plans for the future. Studies were undertaken to establish a basis for future policies regarding all-year use at areas such as Crater Lake, Mount Rainier, and others where developments cannot be planned until a definite use policy is established.

« PreviousContinue »