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National Park Service — January 1, 1916

Published: February 18, 2016

In 1916, Post editor George Lorimer wasted no time voicing the magazine’s support for the formation of a National Park Service to unify and manage the nation’s four dozen or so parks and monuments, which at that time were maintained separately. The following editorial appeared in the Post on New Year’s Day of that year.

National Park Service

January 1, 1916

Mirror Lake, Yosemite

Mirror Lake, Yosemite, c. 1865 (Photo by Carleton E. Watkins, via Library of Congress)

A very simple bill to unify the management of the national parks will come before Congress this winter. It provides for a bureau in the Department of the Interior, in charge of a director who shall receive $6,000 a year, with such clerical, technical, and other assistance as the Secretary of the Interior deems necessary; and for an advisory board of three members, to serve without pay, on whom the director may call for engineering, landscaping, and like advice.

There are 12 national parks, besides some 30 national monuments. Each of them is appropriated for and managed separately. Something over a year ago, the superintendent of Yosemite Park was an army officer. A movement of troops ordered by the War Department would have taken him away, and there was nobody to take his place. An electric-power concern, with a concession in Sequoia Park, wished to make a change in its installation. Nobody in the Interior Department, 3,000 miles distant, knew whether this change ought to be permitted or not, nor was there an expert available to send there. Problems of engineering and of landscaping, the right solution of which requires the best expert advice, are continually arising in the various parks. It would be rather extravagant for any one park, operated as a separate unit, to maintain a staff adequate to deal with these problems, and under the present system, with each park appropriated for and managed separately, there can be little cooperation. But one staff under a unified management could serve all the parks.

President Taft, Secretary Fisher, and Secretary Lane heartily endorsed a unified park management such as this bill proposes to create, for the new bureau would have all the parks and monuments under its charge. The chief obstacle seems to have been merely congressional carelessness; but the national parks are too valuable a possession to be careless about. We trust the present Congress will see it that way.

Read more about how the Post showed continued support for the National Park Service through George Lorimer’s editorials in “The Post and the Parks.”

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