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Outdoor Recreation: Boom, Bust, Private?

Today, the United States is home to myriad local, state, federal and nonprofit park systems and sites – but this wasn’t always the case. Beginning in the 1930s and then accelerating after World War II, the public sector, in particular, took a new and pronounced interest in the management and development of parks specifically intended for recreation, especially near metropolitan areas. Since the 1970s, however, this model has changed, with private funding and organizations taking on a greater role. The blog posts below explore some of the reasons for this shift as well as the implications of government’s evolving involvement in protected area creation and management.

Half-Century of LWCF at Risk (from Fall 2015) – In just about one month, the Land and Water Conservation Fund is set to expire, a deadline that threatens to halt one of the country’s most effective landscape protection initiatives. Recent weeks have brought news of progress towards a bi-partisan resolution, but until a bill passes Congress, the future remains uncertain. What was the context of the program’s passage in 1964 and how did members of the Johnson Administration view the bill?

Economic Change and Park Policy (from Fall 2015) Political economy has long shaped park policy in the United States. Beginning in the late 19th century when the booming railroad business drove the designation of new National Parks to more recent shifts towards privately-funded public spaces, protected areas have always reflected the dominant economic ethos of an era. What can we learn about post World War II park-making by looking at the changing role of the state and the increasing mobility of capital during that time period?