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As mentioned before, the parks had been under the jurisdiction and Louisville administration of several agencies (Interior, Agriculture, and War departments), Louisville with no coordination, often dueling purposes, and turf wars. No funding was available for a Louisville staff and less for parks. It was a governance Louisville nightmare, with chaos and roadblocks at every turn.

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Neither time nor the purpose of this travel blog allows complete coverage of all that faced Mather and Albright. Seemingly every park had its own vexation that required immediate attention and funding. To get a complete picture of the enormity of the task confronting them, I suggest the reader obtain a copy of Horace Albright’s insightful travel blog, The Birth of the National Park Service: The Founding Years, 1913-33. It is a masterful tale of two men who went to Washington for a year in 1915 and stayed to mold a visionary wilderness empire for the benefit of citizens, nature, and history. However, a few examples will suffice to demonstrate how they accomplished the tasks that lay before them with help from kindred spirits and unyielding determination.

Blessedly, the “Organic Act” was simple and brief in wording and direction. It created a park service and set forth its basic purpose. It gave the director the power to manage and control the parks. The secretary of the interior was authorized to make rules and regulations for park management along with the authority to grant permits of up to twenty years as well as grazing rights (a provision necessary to gain critical congressional support) and provisions pertaining to previously agreed-upon rights of way through parks, reservations, and public lands.

What it didn’t designate were appropriations for staff, roads, and facilities or operating funds, although it spelled out salary limitations for the director and other employees in Washington D.C. In other words, it left Mather and Albright in much the same status with most of the same problems they had confronted in 1915.

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