The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in Post-War America: The Role of the ORRRC
Part 1, The Role of the ORRRC
President Eisenhower created the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission in early summer 1958 when he signed the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Act. The commission’s objective was to research outdoor recreation in the United States and propose methods to make it more readily accessible to the majority of people, especially those within metropolitan areas. Following the conclusion of the ORRRC’s four-year study, which included national surveys and the gathering of state and national park data, the commission suggested the creation of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, as well as the recommendations and guidelines as to how it should be run.
The purpose of this essay is to relay the most significant findings, recommendations, and guidelines issued by the commission and determine how closely the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation operated within this proposed scope. The paper will identify the following three areas in detail. First, it will observe the purpose and organization of both the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission and the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. Second, the ORRRC reports will be discussed at length. Finally, it will discuss and compare the creation and operation of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in light of the findings and recommendations of the ORRRC.
Following World War II, Congress began to feel increasing pressure with regard to national parks and outdoor recreation in general. Demand for more and better facilities began to increase in proportion to the population, but supply had not kept up. One of the government’s first major steps in alleviating this pressure was the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Act, officially signed by President Eisenhower on June 28, 1958. The act was designed to be applicable to the widest variety of both public and private recreational interests.
The Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Act was conceived and co-authored by Joseph Penfold and Edward Crafts, who later became the first chairman of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. The Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission’s task was “to study, evaluate, and persuade but not to compel.” By the time the commission was dissolved in 1962, it had released twenty-seven national and regional studies, some of which will be looked at within this essay. 
The Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission was a bipartisan commission comprised of fifteen members. Two members from each party were chosen from the Interior and Insular Affairs Committees of both the House and the Senate. The chairman of the commission was Laurance Rockefeller, who was a private citizen appointed by the President. The four Senators involved were Clinton Anderson of New Mexico, Henry Dworshak of Idaho, Henry Jackson of Washington, and Jack Miller of Iowa. The commission’s four members from the House of Representatives were as follows: John Saylor of Pennsylvania, Gracie Pfost of Idaho, Ralph Rivers of Alaska, and John Kyle of Iowa. 
The other six Presidential appointees were Dr. Samuel Dana, former professor in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Michigan; Marian Dryfoos, associate director of special activities at The New York Times; Bernard Orell, vice-president at the Weyerhaeuser Company; M. Frederick Smith, vice-president at Prudential Insurance Company of America; Chester Wilson, former state commissioner of conservation in Minnesota; and Joseph Penfold, later executive director of the Izaak Walton League of America.
One of the ORRRC’s first tasks was to determine a usable definition of outdoor recreation and the bounds within which it would work. They defined outdoor recreation sites, loosely, as land and water areas of the United States and her territories that currently provided or in the future would offer opportunities for outdoor recreation, regardless of public or private ownership. However, some limitations were set and exclusions made for various reasons. One reason was that some state and local governments were afraid of too much federal government involvement in local affairs. In an attempt to quell such fears, the ORRRC encouraged state and local government participation and even asked that the governors of the states appoint contact officers for federal consultation and gathering data. Major sources of outdoor recreation excluded from the ORRRC’s research were city parks and zoos, golf courses, playgrounds, and stadiums and arenas.
According to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Act, the commission was to have three primary objectives. First, it was to establish the wants and needs of the American people regarding outdoor recreation at the present (1958), and what those wants and needs would be in 1976 and 2000. The second objective was to determine what recreation resources were available to the country to meet those needs in 1976, in 2000, and presently. The ORRRC’s charge in this capacity was to suggest and recommend programs to the President, Congress, and the states ensuring that sufficient recreational resources would be available to the public in the future. The final objective was to recommend policies and programs that would ensure that present and future needs would be sufficiently met.
In order to gather the requisite data, the ORRRC surveyed approximately sixteen thousand people. These surveys appeared in three forms. Travel studies showed characteristics of visiting populations and hoped to determine visitors’ expenditures. On-site studies were conducted at the particular recreation sites in an effort to evaluate the experiences of those surveyed. Household surveys had the advantage of being much more in depth than the previous two and gave the individual filling out the survey more time to contemplate and answer the questions. For these reasons, household surveys were quite popular. Between 1947 and 1958, thirty-eight national surveys and forty-seven state or local surveys of some recreational interest were conducted.
 Edwin Fitch and John Shanklin, The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1970), 60.
 Lary Dilsaver, “Questions of Resource Management: 1957-1963,” America’s National Park System, 2.
Report to the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission, “ORRRC Study Report 21, Vol. III,” The Future of Outdoor Recreation in Metropolitan Regions of the United States. (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1962), iv; Fitch and Shanklin, 63.
 Abott Ferriss, “Applications of Recreation Surveys,” The Public Opinion Quarterly 27 (Autumn 1963), 444-445.