The State Park Movement in America: A Crictical Review

By Ney C. Landrum | Go to book overview

13
Signs of Maturity

A Point of Convergence

An evolutionary process, by definition, does not ordinarily culminate with a neat and precise final product, but goes on indefinitely with never-ending change and refinement. Such undoubtedly will be the continuing course of America’s state parks. But sometime during the 1970s, a series of factors converged to suggest that the state park movement was at last coming of age. After a century or so of trial and error, of innovation and emulation, the pieces seemed to be falling comfortably into place. State parks, as a national phenomenon, apparently had found their niche.

For one thing, the fold was now complete. With the addition of Alaska in 1970, all fifty states had established state park programs, and all seemed to be sufficiently motivated and self-reliant to ensure their likely permanence. Most, if not all, enjoyed the benefit of capable professionals within their ranks to provide sound advice and guidance—not only for day-to-day operations, but for political decision making as well. Moreover, the National Association of State Park Directors itself was maturing into an effective and much-needed support organization for a diverse and often beleaguered group of state park leaders. The perennial funding problem also was less of a concern. The new Land and Water Conservation Fund, now hitting its full stride, was providing almost unprecedented amounts of money as matching grants for capital expansion of reenergized state park systems across the country. It was truly an exciting time for state parks everywhere.

But of all the positive signs that the state park movement had indeed achieved

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