The State Park Movement in America: A Crictical Review

By Ney C. Landrum | Go to book overview

14
A Look behind the Scenes
Issues and Influences that Shape the State Park System

There is long-held truth among state park administrators that courteous personnel and clean restrooms make for happy visitors. Although admittedly simplistic, this maxim reflects a general assumption that most park users do not really see beneath the surface aspects of a park operation—that as long as conditions appear to be satisfactory, then they are satisfactory. Such a perception may be all right for visitors, but it could lead to all kinds of grief if park managers themselves succumbed to such a notion.

For many purposes, though, appearances are the paramount concern. This is why so much emphasis is placed on designing attractive structures, maintaining clean and serviceable facilities, and training personnel to keep a smiling face in spite of frequent aggravation. Above all, the parks must look good and meet at least the minimum requirements of a demanding clientele. Success in these endeavors will go a long way toward reducing visitor complaints and keeping the parks director happy as well.

Unfortunately, planning and operating a modern state park program in a thoroughly professional manner is not nearly as simple as that. While the visitors see only the superficial side of the parks, the administrators must deal with far more complex issues that materially affect the quality and efficiency of a whole system of parks. Such issues and how to cope with them are the grist for an increasingly sophisticated state parks profession and, for the most part, are beyond the scope of our concern here. But there are a few factors that bear so directly on the course a state park system takes that they deserve at least some cursory consideration.

-220-

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