National Park System Property Designations


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Description of the classifications of the properties managed by the National Park Service, for Barbara Kwasnik's course on Theory of Classification and Subject Representation.

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National Park System Property Designations

  1. 1. National Park System Property Designations Andrea Wiggins IST 631 October, 2009
  2. 2. The National Park System <ul><li>Mission </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The National Park Service cares for special places saved by the American people so that all may experience our heritage. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Organization: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The National Park Service manages the National Park System </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Interior; the Director is nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Administrative national HQ in Washington DC, 7 regional offices </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>“ America’s Best Idea” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A world innovation: giving ownership of the most precious places to the public, preserving natural and cultural treasures in perpetuity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>An evolving institution, originally focused on recreation, now also deeply engaged in conservation, education, and research </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. The NPS In 2008,“By the Numbers” <ul><li>11,700,000,000 visitors </li></ul><ul><li>$2,750,000,000 annual budget </li></ul><ul><li>121,603,193 objects in museum collections </li></ul><ul><li>97,417,260 volunteer hours </li></ul><ul><li>84,000,000 acres of land </li></ul><ul><li>4,502,644 acres of oceans, lakes, reservoirs </li></ul><ul><li>275,000,000 annual visitors </li></ul><ul><li>2,482,104 volunteers </li></ul><ul><li>85,049 miles of rivers and streams </li></ul><ul><li>68,561 archeological sites </li></ul><ul><li>43,162 miles of shoreline </li></ul><ul><li>28,000 employees </li></ul><ul><li>27,000 historic structures </li></ul><ul><li>2,461 national historic landmarks </li></ul><ul><li>582 national natural landmarks </li></ul><ul><li>400 endangered species </li></ul><ul><li>391 national parks </li></ul><ul><li>40 national heritage areas </li></ul><ul><li>[1] </li></ul>
  4. 4. Classifying National Treasures <ul><li>Properties owned or managed by the NPS carry specific designations that form a “flat” categorical classification </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Origination in federal legislation and regulations, Executive Orders, Director’s Orders, and policies issued at multiple levels of the DOI hierarchy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The numerous designations within the National Park System sometime confuse visitors. The names are created in the Congressional legislation authorizing the sites or by the President, who proclaims &quot;national monuments&quot; under the Antiquities Act of 1906. Many names are descriptive - lakeshores, seashores, battlefields - but others cannot be neatly categorized because of the diversity of resources within them. In 1970, Congress elaborated on the 1916 National Park Service Organization Act, saying all units of the system have equal legal standing in a national system.” [2] </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. National Park System Nomenclature <ul><li>National Parks ~ 58 </li></ul><ul><li>National Monument ~ 100 (25 are not managed by NPS) </li></ul><ul><li>National Preserves ~ 20 </li></ul><ul><li>National Historical Parks ~ 45 </li></ul><ul><li>National Historic Sites ~ 86 </li></ul><ul><li>National Battlefield Parks ~ 4 </li></ul><ul><li>National Military Parks ~ 9 </li></ul><ul><li>National Battlefields ~ 12 </li></ul><ul><li>National Memorials ~ 44 </li></ul><ul><li>National Recreation Areas ~ 20 </li></ul><ul><li>National Seashores ~ 10 </li></ul><ul><li>National Lakeshores ~ 4 </li></ul><ul><li>National Rivers ~ 15 </li></ul><ul><li>National Reserves ~ 3 </li></ul><ul><li>Parkways ~ 9 </li></ul><ul><li>National Historic & Scenic Trails ~ 3 (18 more in the National Trail System) </li></ul><ul><li>National Cemeteries ~ 16 (co-administered with VA) </li></ul><ul><li>National Heritage Areas ~ 49 (not NPS units but affiliated) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Other” (e.g. National Mall and Memorial Parks in Washington, D.C.) </li></ul>
  6. 6. Policy Origins of Property Designations <ul><li>1864: President Lincoln deeds the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove to the State of California </li></ul><ul><li>March 1, 1872: President Grant signs an Act creating Yellowstone as the world’s first national park </li></ul><ul><li>Antiquities Act of 1906: President Roosevelt creates law giving presidents authority to designate national monuments </li></ul><ul><li>1916 National Park Service Organization Act creates the NPS to manage properties, which are later consolidated </li></ul><ul><li>1960s: Congress passes National Historic Preservation Act, National Trails System Act </li></ul><ul><li>Many other “firsts” set precedents along the way [3] </li></ul>
  7. 7. Scope and Object <ul><li>Entities are called “parks” or “parklands” or “units”, each considered to have equal legal standing </li></ul><ul><li>Designations are more descriptive of the primary natural features of the entity, e.g. lakeshore, scenic trail, historical </li></ul><ul><li>Designations have not been used consistently </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are assigned by Congress upon creating legislation to establish a new NPS unit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Presidents can create National Monuments and the secretaries of the Interior has designated some National Historic Sites </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>There are over 20 designations; some of them are unique (e.g., White House) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Congress also authorizes financial and technical assistance for nationally significant “affiliated areas” that are under private, state or local jurisdiction with NPS oversight </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. How does property become part of the National Park System? <ul><li>Parks are established by an act of Congress or by an Executive order of the President under the Antiquities Act </li></ul><ul><li>A detailed official study is done by the NPS for Congress to evaluate potential new units </li></ul><ul><li>Areas must possess nationally significant natural, cultural, or recreational resources </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It is an outstanding example of a particular type of resource. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It possesses exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the natural or cultural themes of our Nation's heritage. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It offers superlative opportunities for recreation, for public use and enjoyment, or for scientific study. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>It retains a high degree of integrity as a true, accurate, and relatively unspoiled example of the resource. </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 9. How do property designations affect park operations? <ul><li>Provisions in enabling legislation permit different uses </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Legislation will specify additional planning, land acquisition, management and operations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hunting, mining and grazing usually forbidden at National Parks, but may be permitted at National Preserves, Recreations Areas, Lakeshores and Seashores </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Congressional precedent on designations typically relates to usage permissions, but it’s all case-by-case </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Impacts on resource allocations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>No visitor center, no infrastructure - no budget! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Impacts on management strategies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Poaching management versus visitor management </li></ul></ul></ul>
  10. 10. Flexibility and Hospitality <ul><li>The classification seems adequately flexible for the purposes to which it is applied - labeling and policy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>At the same time, this makes it confusing: it is flexible enough to accommodate a variety of policy influences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This designation system is an organic outgrowth of legislative action and policy over many decades </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The classification is hospitable; it is easy for Congress to add more entities or classes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Precedent makes it unlikely that more classes will be added; with over 400 properties, this list is probably “exhaustive” for practical purposes </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Challenges to Usage <ul><li>The classification is adequate for policy and management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Main users are Congress and the NPS </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Designations are inconsistently used, and may have several variations </li></ul><ul><ul><li>National rivers include: national river and recreation area, national scenic river, national wild river </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The classification is obscure for visitors and citizens </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The average visitor or citizen is likely only aware of the most “famous” types of properties: National Parks, National Monuments </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Affiliated areas complicate things </li></ul><ul><ul><li>In 1970, and Act redefined the NPS to include affiliated areas and unify management of natural and cultural resources (e.g. historical sites, previously under ad hoc management) </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Do property designations hinder or help the parks? <ul><li>Property designations are primarily descriptive </li></ul><ul><ul><li>As such, the main hindrance is lack of public understanding, and the main benefit is operational </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Subtle status designations go with property designation for NPS employees: parks have higher prestige than affiliated areas </li></ul></ul><ul><li>NPS property designations are functional </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They are an ingrained part of bureaucratic functioning, whether or not they are efficient or user-friendly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The legislative and policy structures resulted in the current NPS designations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>In reality, every NPS unit is uniquely designated (there is nothing automatic about the long bureaucratic process of creating a new NPS unit) and the fiscal and management implications are tied to designation primarily by Congressional precedent rather than by title </li></ul></ul></ul>
  13. 13. References <ul><li>[1] About Us </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[ </li></ul></ul><ul><li>[2] Designation of National Park Service Units </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>[3] Evolution of an Idea </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><li>[4] Criteria for Parklands </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>