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Special Problems Consideration was given to the type, extent, and location, or relocation, of concession operations at Sequoia-Kings Canyon, Yosemite, Big Bend, Isle Royale, and Olympic National Parks. The location and extent of headquarters developments at Great Smoky Mountains, Antietam, Petersburg, and Gettysburg were also studied.
Advance Planning Although master plan work was in general limited to minor revisions, preliminary plans were made ready for Big Bend, Grand Teton, and the Jamestown Island section of Colonial National Historical Park. A new master plan was prepared for Carlsbad Caverns National Park and the first complete plan for Natchez Trace Parkway was submitted. Although lack of funds prevented planning of specific postwar development projects, a number of steps were taken in preparation for this program. Two postwar project programs were tabulated, with expense and time estimates, as part of the over-all Department of the Interior program. In an effort to establish a priority on future work for survey or construction, priority lists of important road, trail, physical improvement and parkway projects were prepared.
Late in the year, a landscape architect was established at Juneau, Alaska, to begin the basic field study and planning which must precede any developments on the five units of the National Park system in Alaska Architects assigned to the Blue Ridge and Natchez Trace Parkway offices collaborated with the Public Roads Administration in the production of contract plans for bridges and grade separation structures.
PROTECTION CONTINUED UNDER HANDICAPS
Fire Prevention and Suppression As the virgin forests of the Nation are cut or otherwise modified by commercial uses, the remnants preserved within the National Park system increase in importance to the Nation. Fire is always the great threat to those forests. Despite shortages of manpower and equipment, it is reported with considerable satisfaction that only 276 forest fires occurred in areas of the National Park system during the calendar year 1944, the smallest number during any year of the past decade. A total of 4,928 acres was burned over, of which 973 acres were forest, 607 acres brush, and 3,349 acres grassland. Intensive fire control training activities were continued by means of regional conferences. Deterioration of specialized and mechanized control equipment, impossible to replace during the war, and the necessity of using inexperienced youths and older men in fire control added to the normal problems of this protective work.
Combating Forest Insect Pests Because of wartime relaxation of insect control measures, widespread epidemics developed in certain sections of the West and directly affected some of the park areas. It has been possible to handle incipient epidemics in some areas, but serious losses are faced in other sections because of inadequate funds to attempt complete control. Among forest insects combated were the spruce budworm in Rocky Mountain, bark beetles at Scotts Bluff and Bryce Canyon, Engelmann spruce beetle at Cedar Breaks, and saw flies, "loopers,” leaf miners, and tent caterpillars at Zion.
Combating Tree Diseases White pine blister rust continued to spread southward both in the East and in the West. Control work consisting of destruction of the alternate host (currant and gooseberry bushes) during calendar year 1944 included eradication on 1,603 acres and re-eradication on 8,533 acres, the maximum possible under manpower shortages. It is imperative that initial control be intensified, particularly in California, if the magnificent sugar pines of Yosemite and Sequoia-Kings Canyon are to be protected before the disease reaches those areas. The beech bark disease has invaded Acadia National Park but is being fought successfully by sprays which control scale insects whose attack precedes infection. Continuing control is essential.
Studies on the cactus necrosis, which became epidemic in Saguaro National Monument, indicate that the disease is fatal to old, mature plants, that its progress can be slowed by treatment, but that the principal threat to the continuation of the cactus forest is the lack of reproduction, due to overgrazing.
Soil and Moisture Conservation Accelerated erosion-on arid lands, often aggravated by overgrazing, has been controlled to some extent by measures financed through Departmental Soil and Moisture funds. Major prehistoric ruins in Canyon de Chelly and Chaco Canyon National Monuments have been saved from destruction by diverting or dispersing flood waters which have cut channels threatening to undermine these ancient pueblos. Nine units of the system benefited by soil and moisture work, including the new Big Bend National Park.
Impact of Visitor Use Human use, which beyond a certain point inevitably results in wear and tear, during the war relaxed to some extent with the marked
reduction in travel. Studies were made at Zion National Park in an effort to determine harmful effects of past use and provide future controls. Carelessness and vandalism continued, especially at the Petrified Forest and in the various limestone caverns, where the temptation to take souvenirs seems well nigh irresistable to some. At Carlsbad Caverns National Park, an experiment in prevention of vandalism through education was tried with some success on the theory that when people understand the vast length of time and the intricate processes required by nature to create irreplaceable formations they will think twice before wilfully destroying them.
Protection of Prehistoric Ruins Throughout the Southwest prehistoric Indian ruins are subject to the destructive effects of weather and, to some extent, rodents and livestock. During wartime, almost no funds were appropriated for protective work, and accelerated deterioration resulted. Unless a determined and well-financed effort is made to preserve what remains, the life of many of these structures is definitely limited.
Grazing Eliminated in Big Bend Although transportation and manpower difficulties impeded the removal of stock from lands within Big Bend National Park and in a few cases extensions were provided, over 90 percent of all stock had been removed at the year's end. In some portions of the area, improvement in vegetation is already noticeable.
The majority of wildlife problems in national parks and monuments arise from factors over which the National Park Service has little or no control, either because areas are too small or because their boundaries are such that they provide incomplete biotic units. They are therefore affected materially by such outside influences as predator eradication, competition with domestic livestock for food during winter periods when game and other animals migrate beyond the boundaries, and hunting; these, in turn, result in the building up of surpluses of certain species, and overconcentrations in certain locations. The end result is adverse effect upon both wildlife and vegetation, including the forests.
Such situations make it difficult to develop management programs that will assure reasonably stable wildlife populations. They require constant study and the development of management practices based upon it. Overpopulations of game animals in several parks have stimulated group pressure to open them to public hunting as a means of harvesting the surplus. Aside from the fact that it is prohibited
by law, the National Park Service is convinced that any authorization of hunting would establish a dangerous precedent, as well as have other detrimental effects. Where control has been necessary, the Service has continued to exercise it. Reductions were carried out at Rocky Mountain National Park, where 301 elk and 113 deer were removed, and at Zion National Park where 112 deer were killed. Normal hunting outside of the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park kept the elk herd there at a safe level, so that no reduction was necessary.
The past year saw progress in the Service's program of eliminating feeding and other artificial controls over the bison of Yellowstone and reestablishing these animals in their native state-a program based on the long-established policy of displaying the wildlife of national parks under conditions as nearly natural as possible. Careful attention will continue to be given to tbe herd so that any detrimental developments or influences may be recognized and steps taken promptly to correct them.
The ban on the feeding of garbage to the bears of Yellowstone and Yosemite has been maintained, and though there has been some criticism of it by those who consider "bear shows" in national parks an attraction to many visitors, the Service feels that it is entitled to ample time to test the practicability of the revised practices as an improvement for both the visitors and the bears. No doubt the "shows” have been an attraction to many. However, they have produced wholly unnatural concentrations of both black bears and grizzlies, have tended to make them dependent on man and unwilling to shift for themselves, and have displayed these animals under artificial conditions. The principal problem still faced by the Service in connection with these animals is the insistence of some visitors on giving them "handouts," a dangerous practice the prohibition of which is difficult to enforce.
Because of the continuing problem of bighorn sheep-wolf relationships at Mount McKinley, arrangements have been made with the Fish and Wildlife Service for a study to determine what action, if any, is required. Observations at Joshua Tree National Monument indicate that both deer and desert bighorn sheep increased there during the year. The reestablishment of wild turkeys at Mesa Verde National Park appears to have been successful. The use of park waters by fishermen brought up numerous questions of fish management, but the establishment of effective controls are dependent on securing factual data. The Fish and Wildlife Service completed studies in Big Bend National Park as a basis for setting up fishing rules and regulations there. In Glacier National Park, a Fish and Wildlife Service aquatic biologist carried on extensive stream survey work leading to obtaining evidence as to migration and reproduction
habits. The study is designed also to provide an evaluation and comparison of various stocking practices. Fish management studies were also initiated in a few parks by National Park Service personnel.
COOPERATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES GROW Completion of the Alaska Highway Study, undertaken with funds supplied by the Army, was followed by a request from the Corps of Engineers, under section 4 of the 1944 Flood Control Act, for an appraisal of the recreational resources of 68 reservoir sites under consideration by the War Department, and these studies are being undertaken. Cooperation with the Bureau of Reclamation in studies of reservoir basins which they plan to develop or have developed continued in increased .volume. This involves a series relating to Missouri Valley reservoir projects likely to extend over several years. The Service also conducted investigations of the recreational potentialities of 100 sites under consideration on seven river basins in Texas, Oklahoma, and portions of Kansas, Colorado, and New Mexico. Planning studies continued, in cooperation with the Bureau, on the Columbia Basin project, while the survey of the recreational resources of the Colorado River Basin, under way for several years, made material progress.
Administration of the recreational activities at Shasta Dam and Friant Dam in California, in addition to planning and development, comparable to that which the Service has furnished for some years at Boulder Dam, was provided for in an agreement with the Bureau of Reclamation, and a start was made on the establishment of the needed planning and administrative organization. A similar responsibility has been placed on the Service with reference to Lake Texoma, in Texas and Oklahoma. Though the acquisition of additional lands to insure proper development was recommended, no steps have been taken in this direction.
HISTORIC SITES ACT TEN YEARS OLD During the 10 years since President Roosevelt approved the Historic Sites Act, 560 historic sites have been inventoried and 334 archeological sites have been cataloged. Sixteen of the sites recommended by the Advisory Board on National Parks, Historic Sites, Buildings and Monuments have been approved by the Secretary and created national historic sites. Each of these fills an important place in the Federal program of presenting a well-balanced pageant of American history. The studies have accumulated a large body of basic data useful to the Secretary and to Congress in considering establishment of new areas and in formulating policies for preservation and restoration. They emphasize the richness of the Nation's historical and archeological