The State Park Movement in America: A Crictical Review

By Ney C. Landrum | Go to book overview

10
A Major Interruption
Wartime Distraction and Postwar Rebound

It Was Great While It Lasted

The latter years of the 1930s were indeed heady times for state park advocates in America. While wishful thinking and good intentions alone had produced few or no parks in most of the forty-eight states, the sudden availability of direct federal aid in 1933 had worked wonders. Now, less than a decade later, almost every state in the union was firmly committed to a state parks program. The number of individual parks had increased by the hundreds and the total acreage had more than doubled. Probably just as important, state park administrative agencies had been established in every state but one—even in several that still had no parks— and all but three were receiving fairly regular, albeit modest, appropriations of funds.

New Deal largess, ministered principally through the Civilian Conservation Corps, had wrought a truly amazing transformation in America’s state parks movement. Where the National Conference on State Parks had merely publicized the state park idea, the CCC had given it real stone-and-timber substance.

But, as some pessimist once concluded, all good things must come to an end. The decline of the CCC program had started with political opposition to the New Deal in the late 1930s, but the reality of war brought it to an abrupt end in 1942. At the program’s zenith, in 1935, the National Park Service was operating 475 CCC camps in state parks around the country. By the beginning of what was to be its last budget year, in July 1941, the number of state park camps had already dropped to 113, and at the end of that year there were but nine. Only a small amount of new recreational construction was undertaken during the year,

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