The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation in Post-War America: The ORRRC Proposes a Plan
Part 4, The ORRRC Proposes a Plan
With the data collected and analyzed, the ORRRC began the process of determining recommendations and guidelines for the future. Principally, the ORRRC saw outdoor recreation as the responsibility of all levels of government. Many saw mass participation in outdoor recreation as “essential to the well-being of the American people.”
The commission separated its recommendations into five categories. First, the federal government should be responsible for the creation of a new national outdoor recreation policy. The new outdoor recreation policy should incorporate federal, state, and private groups and agencies.
The role of the federal government was to be five-fold: preserve scenic, primitive, and historic areas; manage federal lands for the broadest recreational benefits; cooperate with states for technical and financial assistance; promote interstate arrangements; and promote cooperative leadership in a national recreational effort. Participation by the states was requisite to the success of the bureau. The ORRRC proposed that the states acquire and develop sites, assist local governments, and provide leadership and planning. Local governments would also have important roles in the planning of recreation areas, especially within metropolitan areas.
The second category of recommendations proposed that the federal government provide for management of outdoor resources. Third, the federal government ought to expand and modify current programs to meet increasing needs. Fourth, the ORRRC recommended that the federal government establish a Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. Finally, the government was to establish a federal grants-in-aid program for the states.
The ORRRC also proposed three types of research that should continue to be conducted after it had been disbanded. The government should continue fact-finding in order to maintain the commission’s inventory and census of participation in outdoor recreation. It should maintain research regarding the management of outdoor recreation. And finally, the commission suggested continued research on subjects that did not easily yield to measurement and values.
The ORRRC quickly realized the need to classify the outdoor recreation areas and proceeded to divide outdoor recreation areas into six classes. The Class One was high-density recreation areas. General outdoor recreation areas fell under Class Two. The third class was defined as natural environment areas. Class Four was unique natural areas. Primitive areas were Class Five. And the sixth class was comprised of historic and cultural sites.
After determining its recommendations, instructions, and guidelines, the ORRRC set about what might be its most important task – the proposition of a Bureau of Outdoor Recreation. Less than one page of the initial report to the President and Congress was devoted to this task.
For several reasons, the ORRRC suggested the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation be placed under the Department of the Interior. The Interior Department had a prominent interest in outdoor recreation. Also, many of the agencies with which the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation would have to cooperate were under the supervision of the Department of the Interior. The most obvious reason may be that no other governmental department was designed to suit such an agency.
The commission’s proposals for the operation of the new bureau were brief and insightful. The BOR should have regional offices by which it would work with the states. The bureau ought to coordinate recreation activities of federal agencies that would affect outdoor recreation. Assisting state and local governments in planning and administration should be a top priority. The Bureau of Outdoor Recreation should administer grants-in-aid to states for the planning, development, and acquisition of land. The commission suggested that the bureau guide, stimulate, and sponsor research. The final and possibly most difficult suggestion – the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation was to encourage interstate and regional cooperation.
 Fitch and Shanklin, 67.
 Fitch and Shanklin, 76.