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RodF
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PostSun Jul 21, 2013 7:39 am 
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On June 29, 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the legislation establishing Olympic National Park.  One month later, an influential group met here to survey the new Park and issued this "Statement of Controlling Development Polcies".  This served as Olympic NP's first "management plan" through 1950, and shapes the Park we have today.  So I post this to commemorate its 75th anniversary.

Authors of this policy were:
Preston Macy, acting Superintendent (Custodian, Mt. Olympus National Monument 1935-38 and Superintendent, Olympic National Park 1938-1951),
David Madsen, regional wildlife biologist (first acting Custodian of Mount Olympus National Monument 1933-34),
Owen Tomlinson, Superintendent of Mt. Rainier NP, administrating Mt. Olympus National Monument since 1933, and "midwife" of the legislation establishing Olympic NP,
Harold Ickes, combative Secretary of the Interior under FDR,
Irving Brant, editor St. Louis Star-Times newspaper, conservationist and Park advocate, appointed "Special Consultant" to Ickes, and simultaneously developing a proposal (adopted by FDR in 1940) to expand the Park by a quarter million acres.

The policies they adopted were consistently followed by NPS, with one major exception.  Policy regarding trail shelters was reversed by Sup't. Roger Allin (1970-76) and Roger Contor (1979-83), resulting in the demolition of most of the Park's 90 trail shelters.

It's interesting to contrast the process, by which a handful of men set policy (and later reversed one policy), without the public involvement we now take for granted in public land management decisions.

Source: Olympic NP archives document OLYM-621.
Further reading: Guy Fringer, Olympic National Park: An Administrative History (Seattle: NPS, 1990), pp. 46-77, OLYM archives D-243.  Hal K. Rothman, An American Eden (Seattle: NPS, 2006), pp. 60-125.

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"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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RodF
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PostFri May 09, 2014 11:04 am 
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As we weigh the alternatives presented in the preliminary draft Wilderness Stewardship Plan, let's remember this founding policy (page 3 above).

"Trail Policy

"The terrain of the park is such that travel without trails is very difficult, either in the higher elevations above timberline or in the lower areas having dense forest cover.  The only exceptions are perhaps within the wider river valleys where grazing or browsing over a period of years has eliminated much of the undergrowth.

"Therefore, it is necessary to maintain a large mileage of passable trails if reasonably complete access is to be provided for foot or horse travelers.  It is proposed to maintain the park for a principal use as a trail park.  Owning to the extremely uneven, broken, precipitous topography, a system of trails becomes necessary, which will probably appear to a casual observer of the park map as almost a gridiron of tortuous trails; yet, in fact, such a trail system will not become in any sense an overdevelopment until years have passed with far more trail construction than is now anticipated."


How well has NPS lived up to its founding policy?

NPS inherited over 900 miles of USFS trails.  Over 700 miles of these were all-purpose stock trails.  USFS trails then under construction (Bailey Range, Pyrites - Bretherton Pass - Godkin, Rustler, Martin's Park, Mount Hopper-Elk Park) were abandoned.  NPS initiated limited trail construction (North Fork Sol Duc, Lake Lillian), but completed only two trails (Long Ridge, O'Neil Pass) before WWII; the remainder were abandoned before completion.

A long list of trails have been abandoned since.  Today, NPS has about 620 miles of wilderness trails, of which 356 are nominally maintained as "all purpose" stock trails.  All "preliminary draft" alternatives would cut this further, one (Alt. C) to half the original trail system.

--------------
"of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt" - John Muir
"the wild is not the opposite of cultivated.  It is the opposite of the captivated” - Vandana Shiva
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Forum Index > Pacific NW History > Olympic NP founding policy 1938
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