The State Park Movement in America: A Crictical Review

By Ney C. Landrum | Go to book overview

11
The Continuing Search for Direction
The Ever-Resilient National Conference on State Parks

Even without a federal financial aid program, the course of America’s state park movement during and in the years immediately following the World War II was still influenced to a significant degree by its close involvement with the National Park Service. Near at hand on a parallel track, however, trying to keep up with the times and provide useful service, was the venerable National Conference on State Parks.

In 1941, the NCSP marked its twentieth year of existence, yet the organization now bore scant resemblance to itself during the dynamic Mather years. The fact that it still survived at all as a considerable player in the state parks arena was due almost entirely to the strong, capable leadership it had somehow been fortunate enough to attract. That was indeed the case in the early 1940s, with the redoubtable Richard Lieber at the helm as chairman and the ever-dependable Harlean James still minding the store as executive secretary. Together, they made a formidable team.

The NCSP did not always follow a consistent path, however, and at times it was difficult to know exactly what its agenda was. This confusion prompted Newton Drury, still somewhat new in his position as National Parks director, to submit his resignation from the NCSP board in October 1941. His apparent concern was that certain policy issues at the time might put the NCSP and the NPS on opposite sides and prove “mutually embarrassing.” Following Drury’s lead, two of his subordinates—Conrad Wirth and Herbert Evison—also offered to resign.1 This potential abandonment by the NPS brain trust, which had been

1. National Conference on State Parks, minutes of board of directors meeting, October 31, 1941, in Minutes of Policy Making Bodies, series 1, box 1, NRPA Library.

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