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Science and the National Parks
quest for assistance asked the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to recommend ''a research program designed to provide the data required for effective management, development, protection, and interpretation of the national parks; and to encourage the greater use of the national parks by scientists for basic research.'' This committee was chaired by William J. Robbins.
As a result of Secretary Udall's requests for advice, two landmark documents appeared in 1963: "Wildlife Management in the National Parks" (Leopold et al., 1963), broadly known as the Leopold report, and "A Report by the Advisory Committee to the National Park Service on Research" (NRC, 1963), known as the Robbins report. These two documents provided the first comprehensive reviews of science and resource management in the parks. Their recommendations urged a stronger role for science in the parks. Unfortunately, the reports' assessments of the NPS research and resource management programs remain as relevant today as they were nearly three decades ago, because very few of their recommendations have been implemented effectively.
Many additional reviews and studies of the NPS research and resource management programs have been made since the Leopold and Robbins reports were completed (Table 3-1). Some of these have been conducted by bodies external to the NPS; others were developed internally, sometimes in response to congressional inquiries. This chapter focuses mainly on reports generated outside the agency, especially the Leopold Report; the Robbins Report; a National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) report titled "Research in the National Parks: An Assessment of Needs" (NPCA, 1988a); and a report of the Commission on Research and Resources Management Policy in the National Park System (NPCA, 1989), also known as the Gordon report, after its chair, John C. Gordon of Yale University. The NPS's 1992 report "National Parks for the 21st Century: The Vail Agenda," and other internal reports are noted, however.
The Leopold report was precedent setting in that it recommended management and research directed at whole park