Patterns for Action: Water and Recreation Resources
Harold Gridley Wilm
Given at Berkeley, California, April 26, 1965
In the life of a natural-resource manager, the thirty years since 1935 have been filled with planning, and transforming plans into action. They have drawn a great deal of attention: plans little and big; single-purpose and comprehensive; local, state, and federal, but mostly federal. During the same time, the focus of planning has shifted. During the great depression plans were mainly drawn for projects, so as to employ labor and expend public funds; for a number of years afterwards they aimed at the development of natural resources, with projects forming the tool for development. Most recently, especially in the East, natural-resource development has tended to be relegated to the background; major emphasis has been on use of labor, expansion of education, relief of ill health and poverty, and transportation of products. Strangely, some current planning almost ignores the natural resources whose production is essential to provide the labor to make the products to be transported to provide people with income which will help educate their children and protect them from illness!
The planning and development of water and recreation resources illustrate current trends and their exceptions. Water is one of the most needed of all natural resources, and the supply of good, usable water is becoming one of America's most critical natural-resource problems, highlighted by flood, pollution, and drought. Recreation, strictly speaking, is not even a resource, but a social avocation. But with shorter working hours, greater leisure periods, and more ample family incomes, recreation facilities are becoming more and more essential to the physical and social well-being of the American people. Therefore, planning the use of these two resources is receiving much nationwide attention, particularly in the states of greatest population along the east and west coasts.
I shall discuss in detail the patterns of planning and action programs being carried on in New York State for the development of water and recreation resources, touching upon comparisons and contrasts between New York and California. It may seem strange for a New Yorker to discuss such activities in California, because the two states are so radically different. California is a land of vivid color, brilliant sunshine, and arid climate; New York is gently green and moist, with frequent gray skies and pastel landscapes. California is pictured as grand areas of desert, mountain ranges, forest, and irrigated agriculture, interspersed with burgeoning and prosperous metropolitan regions; New York is visualized as a chain of metropolitan areas, gradually merging into a single belt of megalopolis stretching from New York City to Buffalo. Yet, New York and California have much in common in their natural-resources problems, particularly those of water and recreation; many patterns of planning and development used in New York are applicable to California. People familiar with California's ambitious plans for developing water and recreation may still be interested in New York patterns to the extent that they are based on a different organization which is, in its own way, highly evolved, complex, and sophisticated, while still providing practical mechanisms for planning and development. Also, New York has shown leadership in building up the role of local and state governments for natural-resource planning, with diminished emphasis upon federal planning.
When we think of water problems, we are likely to visualize the vast and lands of the West, with high snow-capped mountains in the distance, and green tracts of irrigation agriculture; or we may think of floods, inundating river-bottom lands and cities. Actually, however, water problems of many kinds are common throughout the United States, because of the rapid growth of our populations and their concentration in urban areas. Problems of total quantity of water most typically characterize the western states: regionally, there may not be enough water to meet all the needs of industry, domestic use, recreation, and irrigation agriculture. These problems of water shortage are creeping eastward across the Mississippi River; and even in the humid-temperate climates east of the Appalachian Mountains, water shortages occur in densely populated areas, especially in dry years.
The most universal water problem lies in distribution, both seasonal and regional. Almost everywhere, the late winter and spring of each year bring high stream discharges from melting snow and spring rains on wet soil. As streams fall off through the heat of summer, the same streams may yield insufficient water for human needs or to carry off waste products.
Also universal are problems of water distribution by region: water supplies may be overabundant in one part and short in another, because of differences in available quantity or in demand. In the East, the total amount of water does not vary greatly from place to place, except in the higher segments of mountain ranges like the Appalachians and the Adirondacks. Eastern distribution problems are often caused by the high demand of cities as compared to the low demand of rural areas. In the West, variations in both demand and supply create intense problems of distribution. The productivity of western desert lands has been made possible only by the storage and conveyance of water from the high mountain ranges of the Rockies, Sierra, or Cascades by means of reservoirs, pipelines, and canals. The development of great metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles and San Francisco has intensified distribution problems.
Water quality has been a problem in the densely settled eastern states, but is becoming more nearly universal. Pollution and sedimentation have become so widespread that many eastern people have never seen clear, pure streams; truly pure water can generally be found only in the headwaters of eastern streams, close to remote ridges and far from human concentrations.
Superficially, the problems of recreation parallel in some ways those of water. The concentration of people, and their demand for recreation, may exceed the available supply of recreation resources by season, region, or quality. Time-distribution problems vary with season of the year and time of the week. The regional-distribution problem is based on the fact that most forms of active outdoor recreation are better developed in open space and rural areas than in cities. Recreation quality problems depend on what kinds of facilities are available, how long they are available, and how large they are. Concentrated, small area recreation includes tennis, baseball, basketball, swimming at pools or city beaches, and perhaps even golf. More diffuse recreation includes picnicking and overnight camping at developed areas, boating and fishing on waters in settled areas; and similar sports. The most diffuse recreation includes wilderness hiking and mountain climbing, fishing and hunting, canoeing in remote areas, and other activities requiring comparative solitude.
A striking contrast between water and recreation problems lies in the kind of action that may be taken to solve them. In simplified terms, the supply and distribution problems of water are solved by storing water and transporting it where and when it is needed. To solve recreation problems, on the other hand, we move people to the places where recreation resources exist or may be developed. This has been a major occupation of the great New York planner and administrator Robert Moses: to plan and develop major, high-density recreation areas such as Jones Beach, and then to provide access to them for great numbers of people, by constructing roads and parkways. Incidentally, a radical part of his philosophy is that one cannot determine needs for recreation by sampling surveys - by asking people - because they don't know what they need. Instead, recreation planners should make their own best decisions as to what people need, build it for them, and then they will fill it up!
Plans for Action
Solution of water and recreation resources problems requires planning. In line with the Moses philosophy, such planning should not be of the broad-brush kind, dealing in shining generalities, brightly colored charts, and projections into the vague future; but should rather be for organized action to meet definite needs, and the laying-out of concrete projects and programs.
Planners like to make projections: guesses into the future, based generally on past trends. Thus, in 1936 when population growth was slowing down, planners projected that by 1960 the population of the United States would become stabilized, and births would equal deaths. Now, during a period of larger families and accelerating population trend, planners project a continuing acceleration - occasionally they even predict an infinite rise per unit of time! Actually, only short-term projections can be realistic. The farther long-term projections are made into the future, the more foolish they are - especially when current trends are projected into the future as concave-upward exponential curves.
Realistic planning requires the employment of professional "doers" - men who are thoroughly experienced in managing water and recreation resources. These can be teamed with a nucleus of skilled planners, who know how to prepare plans, and to put them into execution as projects or programs. To illustrate this point, in New York State the "doers" in recreation planning are Conservation Department personnel in the divisions of Lands and Forests, Parks, Fish and Game, and elsewhere, who themselves build and operate facilities. Teamed with them are professional planners, often consulting firms, who participate in the general planning and design and supervise the building of the resulting projects and facilities.
The planning and development of water resources in New York State illustrate the federalist principle upon which the several levels of government in our state are based: responsibility at the lowest practical level, with action taken by any higher level only when the lower level is unable to cope with its problems. In such cases, the higher level of government provides leadership and technical and financial assistance, but not domination. The federalist principle requires the definite reversal of a tradition built up during this century: planning by the federal government, backed up by federal funds for project construction and operation, and accompanied by federal domination of the results. These federal activities have become more widespread and highly developed ever since 1902, when the federal Reclamation Act was passed; with special increments added in 1935, when the Soil Conservation Service was established in the Department of Agriculture, and in 1936 through the Flood Control Act, which focused on flood-control planning and construction activities of the Corps of Engineers, as well as the Department of Agriculture. To counteract this trend and put the federalist principle into action in New York State, a highly complex and sophisticated intergovernmental organization has evolved.
Federal Water Resources Planning
No effort will be made here to deal with all federal planning activities that are connected with water resources; but only to touch upon the largest of these, with the most direct relationship to state and local planning. The oldest of the organized federal water-planning activities has been done under the Reclamation Act, by the Bureau of Reclamation of the U. S. Department of the interior. These water-resources planning and development activities are almost entirely western, oriented especially toward irrigation and hydroelectric power. All large projects and programs have to be authorized and appropriated individually by the U. S. Congress; small projects can be handled under separate authorization, with project decisions made by the Department of the Interior.
Civil works undertaken by the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers are primarily oriented to flood-control; incidental features are hydroelectric power, low-water regulation, and provisions for recreation and for fish and wildlife. Somewhat like the Bureau of Reclamation, the Army Corps of Engineers must have individual Congressional resolutions to authorize planning and action on any major project. A typical resolution in my region is for the Susquehanna River, which rises in New York State and Pennsylvania, has a major part of its drainage basin in Pennsylvania, and passes through Maryland on its way to Chesapeake Bay. The resolution authorizes the Board of Engineers for Rivers and Harbors to review existing plans, and to prepare a comprehensive plan covering a considerable variety of resources; and instructs the Board of Engineers (through the Corps of Engineers) to coordinate this planning with interested state and federal agencies. The product is, of course, invariably a Corps of Engineers' plan, devoted primarily to "main-stem" projects, with substantial programs included also for other federal agencies; and with rather nominal cooperation by the states involved.
Quite different is the resolution approved for the Genesee River Basin, which is almost entirely in New York State, with a small fraction of the headwaters in Pennsylvania. In this case, by carefully thought-out wording, the Board of Engineers is authorized to prepare a plan covering primarily flood-control, navigation, and related problems. The Board is further instructed to coordinate this planning effort with plans to be prepared by state and other federal agencies on problems - such as upstream flood prevention and watershed protection, fish and wildlife, and recreation - that are primarily the responsibility of agencies other than the U.S. Corps of Engineers. The intent of this resolution was that each agency, state or federal, would prepare plans for the resource problems under its own jurisdiction, and coordinate this planning with the plans of other agencies including the U. S. Corps of Engineers. The resulting Plans would be transmitted by each agency through its own legislative or Congressional channels, for approval. The Corps of Engineers has insisted, however, that planning in the Genesee must follow the same pattern as in other river basins being studied under Congressional resolutions. Highlighting this viewpoint is the existence of a coordinating committee for the Genesee River Basin, chaired by the Corps of Engineers, and with subcommittee chairmanships occupied by other federal agencies. There is, however, a definite alteration in the overall viewpoint of the Corps of Engineers on such planning, leading toward the granting of greater responsibility to the interested states, and to other federal agencies. A prime illustration is the coordinating committee for the Willamette River Basin (wholly in Oregon), with committee chairman Donel Lane, a state water-resources executive responsible to Governor Hatfield. Incidentally, small projects undertaken by the Corps of Engineers, as in the case of the Bureau of Reclamation, do not require separate authorization by the Congress, but may be handled under Public Law 685.
The principal water-resources activities of the U.S. Department of Agriculture are handled under Public Law 566 (1954), the Flood Prevention and Watershed Protection Act. Successive amendments permit planning and action in a variety of water-resources and related fields. This Act permits the Department of Agriculture to cooperate directly with states and other federal agencies in water-resource planning. Responsibility for executing these plans and programs is delegated by law to the Soil Conservation Service, in cooperation with other agencies in the U. S. Department of Agriculture such as the Forest Service and Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service. Watershed plans prepared under this Act must be approved by the state concerned, through an agent named by the Governor - in New York State, the Conservation Commissioner.
In recent years, the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare has been building up its own role in water-resource planning and development. While the plans of this agency are supposed to be oriented primarily toward water pollution control and water quality, they are really becoming "comprehensive plans" in much the same sense as those prepared by the Corps of Engineers.
State Water Resource Planning
Before 1959, responsibility for administering water resources in New York State rested in two interdepartmental agencies of the state government: the New York State Water Pollution Control Board, and the Water Power and Control Commission. Early in the Rockefeller administration, the decision was made to consolidate these overlapping commissions into a single State Water Resources Commission composed principally of those cabinet members who have major responsibilities with relation to water resources; and to clarify the role of the consolidated commission in water administration, as compared to the responsibilities of the individual member departments. The necessary revision of state laws was the result of much analysis and many conferences among the agency heads concerned, together with private interests such as the Associated Industries of New York State.
The revised statute (Article 5 of the Conservation Law, as amended in 1960, 1961, and 1962) established the Water Resources Commission, composed of the heads of the departments of Agriculture and Markets, Commerce, Conservation, Health, Public Works, and Law (Attorney General). The Conservation Commissioner is chairman; he is also the agent of New York State for water-resources work with the U. S. Department of Agriculture, and represents the state on interstate and federal-interstate agencies such as the Great Lakes Commission and the Delaware River Basin Commission. This organizational structure, therefore, provides an effective link between the water-resource agencies of New York State and the corresponding agencies of other states and the federal government. In addition to the six member departments, the revised statute provides for four laymen members of the Commission, representing agriculture, industry, municipalities, fish, wildlife and recreation. While these members have no vote, they serve effectively to represent interests outside the state administration.
The State Water Resources Commission has three major purposes:
To establish policies, standards, classifications, and broad procedures in all realms of state administration of water and related resources. Executive actions, however, under these policies and other administrative framework, are carried out by the individual member departments, such as Conservation, Health, or Public Works.
To prepare a statewide water resources plan composed of a series of river-basin plans, and coordinated with planning done by the Office of Regional Development in the Governor's Executive Department, which supervises and coordinates the preparation of plans for all natural, social, and physical resources.
To provide technical and financial assistance by the state, for local and regional multiple-use planning of water resource development.
These relationships are so important - and comparatively so unprecedented - that they may be worth a little further discussion. As to policies, for example, water-quality standards and classifications are recommended to and approved by the Water Resources Commission, so that proper consideration may be given to the interests of all affected agencies as these policy-level determinations are made. Then the Department of Health handles the enforcement of the water-quality standards - except in matters of fish life, where the standards are enforced by the Conservation Department. The Health Department also receives, reviews and approves applications for municipal sewage treatment plants, and makes all the necessary engineering reviews. As to municipal water supply, again the policies and standards are established by the Commission; applications for water-supply plants are made to and granted by the Commission; also permits for the withdrawal of ground waters on Long Island, where ground-water problems are crucial.
The statewide plan, as mentioned, is carried out by major hydrological units, such as river basins, in cooperation with the Office of Regional Development, with other states, and with federal agencies.
One of the most important functions of the water Resources Commission relates to local-government agencies in their planning of water-resource development on a multiple-use basis. Under the Van Late Act Of 1959, the state is authorized to provide technical supervision and financial assistance amounting to three-quarters of the total cost of multiple-use water planning for any given region. Such a region is composed of two or more municipalities (villages, towns, counties, or cities), banding together to form a regional board of laymen, who provide local knowledge and supervision for the preparation of plans. The first example of such planning is in the Erie-Niagara region, at the western end of New York State, in which four counties have consolidated their efforts through a regional board, with assistance by the State Water Resources Commission. A feature of this planning is that, for the first time, a local-government entity actively engaged in the solution of its own water problems has called upon federal agencies to assist it by providing personnel and finances for portions of the regional study in which the federal agencies are best qualified to contribute.
For the federal agencies this was an unusual development. Through Public Law 566 as amended, however, the Department of Agriculture is authorized to cooperate with states and other federal agencies in such regional planning. Therefore, when the chairman of the Water Resources Commission requested such assistance of the Secretary of Agriculture, a friendly and favorable reply was received; and the state is giving what assistance it can toward getting federal appropriations for this purpose. While working along similar lines with the U. S. Corps of Engineers, it was discovered that new language has to be added to the omnibus flood control act to permit this kind of cooperation by the Corps. Through the New York State Congressional delegation, the necessary language is being requested.
Obviously, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is another focal point of federal interest in New York State water problems. Development of these federal-state relations has hardly begun, but is expected to emerge rapidly with implementation of Governor Rockefeller's "Pure Waters" program.
This new program to clean up the waters of New York State is so grand in scope that it deserves special attention. Developed largely in the State Department of Health with the cooperation of other agencies, this plan calls for a total expenditure of 1-7 billion dollars for the design and construction of sewage collection systems and treatment plants. Of this amount 40 per cent - about 700 million dollars - is to be contributed by municipalities. Thirty per cent - about 500 million dollars - will be contributed by the state in the form of grants to municipalities; the remaining 500 million dollars would be received through federal grants. The plan provides that the state's share and the advance payment of the federal share over a period of six years would be financed by a one-billion dollar bond issue which requires statutory enactment and the approval of a referendum by the people of New York State next November. While industrial and other nonmunicipal pollution represents a comparatively small fraction of the total pollution problem in New York State, the plan also contemplates assistance to industry through tax abatements and other incentives.
This program is one more example of state leadership in state-federal relations. Grants to states and municipalities under the federal Water Pollution Control Act have been so seriously retarded by inadequate authorization of funds, by an allocation formula which discriminates against great urban areas, and by low ceilings on projects, that progress up to now has been far too slow. The New York State program proposes to pay the federal as well as the state share on federally approved projects, so as to accomplish the necessary clean-up within six years, if possible. Then the prepaid federal funds may be returned to the state as fast as permitted by an amended water pollution act and by annual appropriations. With strong encouragement by our state, such amendments are under consideration by the Congress,
Interstate-Federal Water Administration
Along with this continuing work on the administration and development of water resources within the state, and in cooperation with the federal government, New York State has also participated actively in fostering interstate relationships. One of the earliest and yet most sophisticated of these relationships developed in the Delaware River Basin. This is a comparatively tiny basin; but its waters impinge upon the lives of over 25 Million people, serve a large and complicated industrial network, and carry a great volume of navigation as well as untold quantities of industrial and human wastes. As an important incident to all this development, a substantial amount of Delaware River water is stored in reservoirs in the upper basin, and transported eastward across the divide into the Hudson River Basin to supply drinking water to New York City.
Conflicts over Delaware River water have been going on for many years. They led to the development of the Interstate Commission on the Delaware, which continued as a semi-official body for mutual interstate cooperation, even though it was not ratified as a compact by all of the states involved. In 1954, controversies between Pennsylvania and New York State (more especially between Philadelphia and New York City) were settled by a U.S. Supreme Court decree which allocated not to exceed 800 million gallons of water per day to New York City, in exchange for which the city has to guarantee a minimum discharge of not less than 1,525 second feet (nature permitting) at a specified point in the lower river. Soon after, a Congressional resolution authorized the Corps of Engineers to undertake a comprehensive water-resources plan for the Delaware Basin. This stimulated the formation of a Delaware River Advisory Committee which, with the use of a Ford Foundation grant to Syracuse University, evolved an organizational plan for the administration of the water resources of this basin. Starting with the Syracuse Report as a basis, the Advisory Committee spent two arduous years working out a Delaware River Basin interstate-federal compact. After ratification by the legislatures of the four basin states - New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware - it was also enacted by the Congress of the United States and signed by President Kennedy in November, 1961.
Under the Delaware Basin Compact, the water resources of the basin are administered by a five-man commission, composed of the governors of the four states plus one man designated by the President to represent the federal government: the Secretary of the Interior. Each of the five members has a legally appointed alternate. The Compact provides not only for planning but also for the administration of water resources, including the construction and operation of projects and facilities when advisable. Actually, the powers of the Delaware River Commission are practically as broad as those of the Tennessee Valley Authority, but with two great distinctions. First, instead of a federally appointed board of directors, the Delaware Basin Commission is composed of the executive heads of the four states involved, elected by the people, plus one federal representative. Also, the Compact directs the Commission to do its work as far as Possible through existing state and federal agencies.
Susquehanna River Basin. - At present, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers is conducting a comprehensive river-basin study of the Susquehanna River, in cooperation with other federal agencies and with the states of New York, Pennsylvania, and Maryland. At the same time, a Susquehanna River Advisory Committee, similar to that of the Delaware, is drafting a compact which is quite similar in its form and powers to that of the Delaware River Basin, with certain minor improvements which are the result of experience in the Delaware.
Great Lakes Commission. - New York State, as the easternmost of a chain of eight states bordering the Great Lakes, is an active member of the Great Lakes Commission, ratified by all eight legislatures but not as yet by the federal government. The Great Lakes Commission is composed of a variable number of members from each state, but with three votes per state. Some are legislators, some administrators, and a few are not directly connected with state government. This body of men is working actively toward interstate cooperation and the coordination of plans for the protection and development of the waters of the Great Lakes. As part of an emerging multi-resource comprehensive plan, the International joint Commission is studying the serious problems of water levels in the Great Lakes in which the United States and the Provincial and Dominion Governments of Canada are participating.
Water Resources Planning Act of 1965. - This new Act, which came into being this year after several years of negotiation, is the most recent development in the evolution of interstate-federal water-resource planning. Its origin was a bill introduced by Senator Clinton Anderson of New Mexico, then chairman of the Senate Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs; and by Congressman Wayne Aspinall of Colorado, chairman of the corresponding House Committee. The original bill provided dominating powers in the federal government, for the planning of water resources in river basins. Amendments to this bill, spearheaded by the Interstate Conference on Water Problems and other national organizations, led to the cooperative development of a completely new bill which places full planning responsibility upon the states involved in any river basin, in cooperation with the federal government. Title 1 of the Act provides for a federal council, composed of cabinet members, who will coordinate water-resources activities at the federal level. Title 2 provides for the establishment of interstate-federal commissions, with the state members appointed by the governors of the states involved. Title 3 authorizes grants by the federal government to assist the states in water-resources planning. The amended bill was passed with only a few negative votes in the Senate, and none in the House of Representatives. This is an-other landmark in the evolution of state and interstate responsi-bility for water resources planning and development, in active cooperation with the federal government.
Without any common element to link them all together, these I complex intrastate, state-federal, and interstate-federal organizations could become a chaotic maze of governmental relationships. By statute or by appointment, however, all of them have one element in common: the chairman of the New York State Water Resources Commission is the Governor's alternate in the Delaware Basin Commission; a member of the Susquehanna River Advisory Committee and of the Great Lakes Commission; and, by coincidence, also the current chairman of the fifty-state national organization, the Interstate Conference on Water Problems. Even though this executive necessarily acts through alternates and representatives, the existence of this common element of organization provides a thread of continuity through all of these governmental relationships.
Contrasted with the complexities of water-resource planning and development, a corresponding fabric involving recreation is somewhat simpler, although also mature and fairly sophisticated. Although the organizational structure in New York State deals with many forms of recreation, I shall confine myself to the major forms of outdoor recreation provided by municipalities and by the state.
The Forest Preserve
Two features of outdoor recreation in New York State are outstanding: the Forest Preserve, and the State Park system.
The New York State Forest Preserve was established by constitutional amendment in 1894, as a direct consequence of generations of destructive exploitation of the forest resources in the mountainous areas of New York State: the Adirondacks and Catskills. This constitutional amendment (Article 14, Section I particularly) provides that the lands "now owned or hereafter acquired" by the state within the 16 Adirondack and Catskill counties "shall be forever kept as wild forest lands." Section I further states that these lands "shall not be sold, leased or exchanged or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed." Article 14, Section I, has been amended five times since 1894: in 1941 and 1947 to authorize the state to construct three ski areas within the Forest Preserve; in 1957 to allow the use of not more than 400 acres of Forest Preserve land to eliminate dangerous highway curves; in 1959 to permit the use of not more than 300 acres of Forest Preserve land for construction of an Interstate Highway, the so-called Northway; and in 1963 to permit the conveyance of 10 acres of Forest Preserve land (containing an unconstitutional village dump) to the Village of Saranac Lake in return for 30 acres of forest land owned by the village. Thus it is evident that this article of the State Constitution combines a fundamental, though very restrictive constitutional principle, with details that may have to be of such petty nature as to degrade its dignity.
Our Forest Preserve is the source of many misconceptions. Perhaps the commonest is that it is a large, homogeneous body of land, primarily wilderness and mountains, enclosed by a definite boundary called "the blue line." It is true that there is a blue line surrounding a very large tract of mountain and valley land in the Adirondack region and another around a smaller area of mountains in the Catskills. The land within these two lines, however, is far from homogeneous. Of a total of more than 5 1/2 million acres within the two blue lines, only about 2.6 million acres are owned by New York State. These are distributed in a helter-skelter, patchwork pattern interspersed with open valleys, highways, neon-lighted villages, and resort developments, and other signs of civilization. Even the solidly forested areas have I a patchwork pattern of ownership, with state land interspersed by private hunting clubs, summer-cottage developments, municipal lands, and large tracts of private timber land managed for paper pulp or lumber by companies such as International Paper, Finch-Pruyn, or St. Regis. Finally, even the state-owned land which is correctly defined as The Forest Preserve is by no means all wilderness. A full 80 per cent of this land was cut-over and burned - much of it repeatedly - during the generations of exploitation before and after 1900. The other 20 per cent was mostly inaccessible to loggers in places such as the beautiful, remote "High Peaks." Finally, of the 2 1/2 million acres of state-owned Forest Preserve, less than 900,000 can be construed as wilderness in tracts large enough so that a person can find real solitude among the lakes and marshes and high peaks. The remainder is delightful country - much of it gently rolling, with chains of lakes and beautiful streams and fine country for hunting, fishing and other simple outdoor recreation-but not wilderness.
The State Constitution treats all of these 2 1/2 million acres alike. Taken literally, the Constitution would prohibit the development of camping spots, the construction of log lean-to's, the development of picnic areas, beaches, or boat-launching sites - or perhaps even the construction of roads to protect this vast area against forest fire. All this, simply because the Constitution prohibits the cutting or removal of trees. Of course the Constitution is not taken literally - it cannot be. Court decisions and a succession of opinions by various Attorneys General have surrounded the Constitution with enough flexibility so that fire-protection roads can be built to protect the Forest Preserve. By an extension of similar reasoning, camp and picnic areas are permissible, because they cluster people together where they can be supervised, so that they themselves do not cause forest fires.
In a strict sense, perhaps this last interpretation is stretching the literal meaning of the Constitution too far. However, people want campsites and picnic areas and trails and boat-launching sites. Therefore, the administrator in charge of the Forest Preserve somewhat timorously does build these recreation facilities for people. New York State "campsites" in the Forest Preserve are growing rapidly in number and capacity, and are extremely popular. Under such circumstances, the threat of a lawsuit becomes rather safely remote. Still, every suggestion which points at amendment to the Constitution, or at any new kind of action in the administration of the Forest Preserve, immediately makes its administrator realize that it is not just a great tract of beautiful land, but a philosophical ideal in the minds of millions of New Yorkers - most of whom have never been in the real Forest Preserve, but carry it in their souls as an atavistic dream of pioneer America.
To an ecologist, the several generations of progressively increasing ownership and protection of Forest Preserve land have led to a fascinating consequence. The cut-over hardwood forest has progressively developed into a dense, second-growth stand which is becoming less and less favorable as a habitat for game - particularly deer and grouse. Shrubs, seedlings, and saplings which previously had provided browse for deer are becoming more scarce on the state-owned land, so that the deer herd is slowly deteriorating. This fact is becoming so well recognized, even by the layman, that deer-habitat improvement by the removal of trees is actually becoming an acceptable doctrine. With this fact in mind, the State Constitution - through Section 3 Of Article 14 - actually becomes self-contradictory. This section says, "Forest and wildlife conservation are hereby declared to be policies of the state," while Section 1 prohibits tree cutting.
To make the administrator's job even more complicated, mechanized transportation is more and more a threat to the Forest Preserve. Since the jeep and the Weasel first came upon the postwar scene, land and water vehicles have become more mobile, and can - unless restricted or prohibited - invade the back country with ease. Therefore, it is becoming necessary to impose more specific and greater restrictions upon the travel of people over state-owned lands and waters in the Forest Preserve. These factors, together with the popularity of campsites and the need for deer habitat management, are all creating a climate in which a new and deeply thought-out policy for managing the Forest Preserve becomes a necessity. This is the task which now faces its administrators: the devoted, hard-working and harassed men of the Conservation Department.
State Park System
This network of state-owned parks and their administration, among the most elaborate in the United States, was largely developed under the leadership of Robert Moses, who was chairman of the State Council of Parks for over 30 years, until his resignation in 1963 when he was succeeded by Laurance Rockefeller. More than 110 parks and interconnecting parkways are found throughout the state - from Montauk Point at the east end of Long Island, to Niagara Falls, and from the southwestern Allegany Park to the Thousand Islands and the St. Lawrence River. Ranging from the most primitive to the most elaborate of facilities - as at Jones Beach - these parks serve about 35 million visitors per year.
The administration of New York State parks is original and effective. By law, the state park system is placed within the Conservation Department, and is administered by the Division of Parks. The state is divided into ten regions. Except for Region 6, which contains the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves and is administered by the Division of Lands and Forests, the other nine regions are handled by a regional manager, and the administrative policies for each region are determined by a governor-appointed commission of unpaid laymen. The chairman of each commission and the Director of Lands and Forests form a ten-man group called the State Council of Parks, with a chairman elected by its members. Policies, programs, and budgets originate with the regional commissions and are consolidated and approved by the State Council of Parks, for transmission to the Conservation Commissioner so that he can include the programs and budgets along with others of the Department. While an unusual organization, in its present state it is remarkably efficient and free of political interferences.
As might be expected, the highly evolved municipal and local governments of New York State also have park systems of varying stages of maturity. These range from the simplest village parks, through the luxurious developments of wealthy counties like Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester, on to the complex network of New York City parks.
Outdoor Recreation Planning
As in other governmental activities in New York State, the principle of federalism underlies the planning and development of recreation resources. Local recreation facilities are handled by municipalities, with any necessary guidance and assistance by the State Office of Local Government. This Office, placed within the Governor's Executive Department, functions also as a member of the State Recreation Council, composed - as in the case of the Water Resources Commission - of the administrative state agencies concerned with recreation.
State Recreation Council
This Council, established by Chapter 837 of the Laws of 1964, is composed of the commissioners of Commerce, Conservation and Education, the Chairman of the State Council of Parks, the Director of the Division for Youth, the Commissioner of the Office for Local Government, the Director of the Office for Regional Development, the Director of the Office of Transportation and the Chairman of the Temporary State Council on the Arts. In addition, the Governor may designate as members of the Council the heads of such other state agencies as he deems appropriate or advisable.
The purpose of the Council is to coordinate the activities of all state agencies involved in recreation programs, and to obtain the advice and counsel of laymen on the Advisory Committee which is also provided for by law. The Council has an executive secretary, who handles all the necessary staff work. One of its most important functions at present is to lead the preparation of a statewide plan encompassing all forms of recreation. Working with the Council, the executive secretary also has the responsibility of relating outdoor recreation plans - either regional or statewide - to the overall plans being developed by the Governor's Office of Regional Development. In this activity, the relation of the Council to the Governor's planning office is identical to that of the Water Resources Commission.
State Parks and Outdoor Recreation
Because the State Conservation Department is in charge of the most widespread and large-scale recreation activities, it seems desirable to devote some special attention to this work.
In the department, recreation activities are focused especially in the Division of Parks and Division of Lands and Forests; the divisions of Motor Boats, Fish and Game, and Saratoga Reservation also handle various forms of recreation. Except for the Division of Motor Boats, which is comparatively new, the organization of all of these divisions is stable and mature, and characterized by men of experience and competence. This kind of staff makes it possible to plan recreation development in the most concrete and pragmatic terms, to meet the needs of the people of the state, without the compulsion to use abstractions, statistics, and projections as bases for planning. Experience has taught our men to plan in very specific terms - detailed designs for actual projects - on a short-term basis. Conforming to budgetary requirements, the divisions prepare capital-construction requirements only five years in advance. Plans for the longer term are usually limited to 20 years and are general in scope. The outstanding exception to this rule is that, in planning for the acquisition of recreation lands, we have made our best estimates as to the kinds and quantities of land that will be required over the next 20 years, and have proceeded to buy them over the past five years. This program will be discussed in greater detail in the next section.
It should be noted that New York State, working through the Conservation Department and more especially through the Council of Parks, has participated actively with the Department of the Interior during the evolution of the Federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act and of the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation, created by statute to administer the Land and Water Conservation Fund. The present chairman of the New York State Council of Parks, Laurance Rockefeller, was chairman of the President's Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission which laid the foundation for the Land and Water Conservation Fund Act.
Recreation Land Acquisition Program
Governor Rockefeller decided as early as 1959 that the increasing demand for outdoor recreation would have to be met by a sharply accelerated program. As a first step, the state needed to acquire wide areas of land for recreation as soon as possible - before the remaining available lands, especially close to cities, were taken up by suburbs and industry, or went beyond reach in price. Once the land was acquired, development for recreation could proceed in an orderly manner over a number of years. These conceptions were discussed with the Council of Parks, particularly with Robert Moses, and a recreation land acquisition bond issue of 75 million dollars was proposed and overwhelmingly passed by legislation and by referendum of the people of the state. A second bond issue of 25 million dollars was passed in 1962. Of the total sum, 50 million dollars was set aside for grants to municipalities of all kinds: villages, towns, counties, and cities, with a special category for New York City. These monies have been supplied to municipalities on a 75-25 basis for participation: $3 of State funds, for each $1 of municipal funds. The other half of the total fund is dedicated to land acquisition for state parks and other forms of state-owned recreation facilities.
Because of their exceptional effectiveness, the various techniques employed in this land acquisition program are briefly described here: methods used to put across the bond issue; the standards employed; and the methods for selecting and acquiring the lands. To make the public understand the bond issue, a colorful brochure entitled "Now or Never" and a simple printed folder were published. The brochure was distributed to all members of the Legislature, to interested private organizations, and to the editors of the major newspapers of the state. The folder was sent to practically every official of local and municipal government in the state: it briefly told what the bond issue was for, and how the state could assist municipalities financially to obtain land, if the referendum were passed by the Legislature and the people. Both of these publications were, of course, widely publicized by radio, television, and the press.
The standards for acquisition are simple. The Bond Act itself says: "Lands acquired for state or municipal parks shall consist of predominantly open or natural lands, including lands underwater or forested lands, in or near urban or suburban areas, or suitable to serve the recreational needs of the expanding populations of growing metropolitan regions, or desirable to preserve the scenery or natural resources thereof." Each proposed acquisition is scrutinized by Conservation Department staff to ascertain that the land is suited to the purpose proposed; that the agreed-upon price reflects their appraisal of the land's actual value; and that the title is sound. Incidentally, the Act provides that title to land may be acquired at any level, from the simplest easement to protect scenic values, to total ownership by the state or municipality. Also, the state has the power to appropriate or condemn land, either through "friendly appropriation" to clear the title or to give a completely clean-cut procedure for acquiring land from state employees; or to have the selling price established by the Court of Claims.
Appraisals are handled in several ways, depending on the value of the land or of the facilities to be constructed upon it. For the least expensive land, appraisals are made by Conservation Department field personnel and checked by Albany personnel. For the most expensive lands, the appraisals are made by approved contract appraisers, and checked by the Department. Titles are reviewed by the State Law Department, with assistance from Conservation Department personnel. Finally, the sale contract has to be approved by the State Department of Audit and Control. These procedures have been so streamlined that, except for title searches, the acquisition process moves rapidly. Land acquisitions worth more than 92 million dollars have been handled without any noticeable price inflation beyond the "normal" trend of land-value accretion.
This accomplishment is due directly to the procedures employed. Most recommendations for acquisition came from state or municipal personnel in the immediate locality: for state acquisitions, for example, they came from either the regional parks managers or the regional directors and supervisors of Lands and Forests or Fish and Game. Municipal acquisitions have been recommended by the municipal governments themselves. Thus no centralized planning was done beyond the broad guidelines described above. Only when the Conservation Department or municipality was ready actually to negotiate a purchase did field personnel appear, to make surveys and appraisals. Before that time, as far as humanly possible, all acquisition proposals were kept in closed files. Even in publicizing the bond program before its enactment, only general statements and summaries were used for major regions of the state.
The flow pattern of acquisition projects is straightforward. State park applications have moved from the regional park managers through the regional commissions and the State Council, to the Director of Parks in Albany, who recommends to the Conservation Commissioner the approval of the project. Other Conservation Department acquisitions have followed a similar pattern, through any of several divisions to the Bureau of Land Acquisition in the Division of Lands and Forests, and thus to the Conservation Commissioner. Urban proposals for large parks (ordinarily 50 acres or more but as small as 25 acres in some cases) have come through the regional park commissions, following the flow lines of state park proposals. Municipal applications for small urban parks have been processed through the State Division of Housing and reviewed by the Division of Parks in the Conservation Department. Before approval by the Conservation Commissioner, all "parcels" are checked and tentatively approved by a land acquisition consultant in the Commissioner's office. Once approved by the Department, the packages are transmitted to the Law Department and the State Comptroller for title search and final approval.
Recreation Development Plan
Our 100-million-dollar land acquisition program is almost completed, except for comparatively minor acquisitions which will continue for a number of years. Thus the great task ahead is the planning and completion of a major recreation-development program. This has been outlined in general terms, as to kinds of facilities to be developed, and sources of funds for the purpose. Our estimate is that, using current prices as a base, the complete development of lands acquired and to be acquired will call for the expenditure of approximately 400 million dollars over the next ten or more years. Preliminary estimates indicate that, of this total, approximately 140 million dollars will be required for state parks; 40 million dollars for other forms of state-owned outdoor recreation facilities; 95 million dollars for marine facilities, including state and local shares for "harbors of refuge"; 100 million dollars for municipal parks and 25 million dollars for historic sites. Also tentatively, it is estimated that 40 per cent of the municipal money will be needed for New York City, the remainder for other municipalities of all magnitudes. This is an ambitious program. To be completed within ten years, state, federal, and local funds may need to be supplemented by another bond issue. Otherwise based on past levels of available funds, the task will require a substantially greater period of years.
Aside from the concrete details of programs for the planning and development of the water and recreation resources that describe a single state, this paper has also portrayed the patterns of two organizational structures which, with changes in scale and modifications to fit other state organizations should have general application.
To sum up, here are the organizational features that characterize both New York State programs:
Federalism. Planning and development of governmental activities at the lowest practical level of government, with guidance and assistance at higher levels. Through a highly evolved system of local governments coordinated by a State Office of Local Government, New York State is meticulous not to impose domination of local programs as a condition of state assistance. Similarly, New York State wants to work with other states in the maintenance of state responsibility and leadership in interstate and national programs, with guidance and assistance but not domination by the federal government.
Delegation and Decentralization. In executive organizations such as state departments, these organizational features are parallel to federalism in government. The general principle is that executive decisions are made at the lowest practical level, with guidance and assistance from higher executive levels. The planning of resource programs requires only general guidelines and final approval of proposals by the higher executive levels, as in the Conservation Department. In general, project and program proposals flow from field administrators with long experience and knowledge of their own regions, to the central office where they are consolidated and, when necessary, revised by central-office staff into a solid and coordinated state-wide program. In this process, professional planners are brought in primarily to help establish the guidelines and to prepare the final programs.
Breadth of Judgment on Policy. On policy patters concerning more than one governmental group (as state departments, or states themselves), it is generally desirable to vest policy-making powers in broadly based governmental groups, such as interagency or interstate commissions. Illustrations are the Delaware River Basin Interstate-Federal Commission, the New York State Water Resources Commission, and the State Recreation Council. In each of these cases, the interdepartmental or interstate agency has jurisdiction on certain policy matters, superior to that of the individual state department or the individual state. By voluntary action and full understanding of the implications, this kind of governmental structure sacrifices to some extent the autonomy and individual initiative of single departments or single states, for the greater benefit of the group
Executive Relations. Policy and program are executed by individuals, with a chain of command from man to man at all levels of government: from the field technician to the regional manager, to the bureau chief, to the subject division (as Parks) to the Department (as Conservation), to the Governor, and thence to the Legislature. This combination of single-man executive responsibility, with group determination of policy, program, and sometimes budget, provides maximum breadth for judgment in policy, with maximum efficiency in execution.
Introducing: Harold Gridley Wilm
In past years the Albright Lecture has brought to Berkeley both natural resource administrators and biological scientists whose research has focused on natural resource problems. Dr. Harold Gridley Wilm is the first Lecturer who combines in one career both of these important foundations for wise use of natural resources.
Dr. Wilm was born in Topeka, Kansas, and received his primary and secondary education in the East. After obtaining the Bachelor's degree in Forestry from Colorado College, he pursued graduate studies for several years at Cornell University and was awarded the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Silvics from that institution in 1932.
Between 1932 and 1948 Dr. Wilm engaged in watershed management research with the United States Forest Service. During this period, in addition to his own research investigations in California and Colorado, he was directly involved in the development of the San Dimas and Fraser Experimental Forests which now constitute two of the principal watershed management research stations in the West. Subsequently he conducted flood control surveys and river basin planning studies both in the South and in the Pacific Northwest for the Forest Service, and for three years served as chief of the Division of Watershed Management Research for that agency in Washington, D.C.
In 1953 Dr. Wilm was appointed associate dean of the State University College of Forestry at Syracuse, New York. There he was responsible for resource management and graduate studies and developed a strong teaching program in watershed management.
In 1959 Dr. Wilm was appointed commissioner of conservation for the State of New York, a post which he has held with distinction since that date. His responsibilities as conservation commissioner involve administration of broad policies affecting land, forest, fish, wildlife, recreation, water, oil, and gas resources for the State of New York. In that capacity he has been responsible for major programs of resource conservation and development, particularly in the fields of water and recreation use.
Dr. Wilm has served as president of the International Association
of Scientific Hydrology, as president of the Hydrology Section of
the American Geophysical Union, and as leader of the forest influences
section of the International Union of Forest Research Organizations.
He is chairman of the Interstate Conference on Water Problems, chairman
of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, and vice president of the
National Rivers and Harbors Congress. He is an honorary alumnus
of the State University College of Forestry at Syracuse. He brings
to the Albright Lectureship a rarely equaled background of experience
in both scientific research and responsible public administration.