Monday, February 11, 2019

The “Bastard Child of the Park System”

& the Emergence of Blues Tourism in Washington County, Mississippi
By T. DeWayne Moore

Due to the rampant clear-cutting by lumber companies and a lack of planning for reforestation, the Mississippi State Legislature created the Mississippi Forestry Commission (MFC) in 1926. In the third section of an act to develop plans for reforestation, the governor received authorization was to “accept gifts of land” for the purpose of establishing state forests and parks. The state did not acquire any land for parks before to the onset of the Great Depression, which limited such endeavors across the nation. The 1932 election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt brought with it a New Deal for all Americans, however, and he established the Emergency Conservation Works (later renamed the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) in 1937) and resumed the development of the national park system.[1] In early 1934, some representatives of the state park division of the National Park Service approached the MFC about a cooperative program to develop state parks was possible, provided that the state furnish the land. Since neither the MFC nor the counties had statutory authority to purchase lands for the development of state parks, and the state had no legal justification for the use of state-owned lands for park development, the MFC solicited the assistance of legislators, civic organizations and individuals, all of whom sponsored a bill introduced in that year's legislative session. Known as House Bill 446, it allowed states to establish state parks using state-owned lands; it also authorized counties to purchase land for the future development of a state park.[2]