Recreational areas for public use on the shores of our seacoasts, lakes, and gulfs are disappearing at a rapid rate. The National Park Service has repeatedly called attention to the urgent need for preserving this important recreational resource for the benefit of the public, but thus far the administration has done virtually nothing. Yet every year of delay in acquiring suitable areas will impose ever greater costs on the public purse.
The time for action to save our shoreline recreational areas is already overdue. I have sponsored legislation to acquire seashore areas and will make this program a prime objective of my administration.
The Federal Government, along with State and local governments and private interests, have a responsibility to meet the mounting recreational needs of the people of America, including millions of hunters and fishermen. Our recreational facilities are overcrowded with 175 million population.
The Park Service's Mission 66 program is behind schedule and should be speeded. The Forest Service's program for the national forests has not been adequately implemented. We need to be pursuing land acquisition policies in connection with new reservoirs which will make the most of their potential recreational values, including production of fish in the lakes and wildlife on their perimeter. Research into fish management in the new reservoirs is needed to maximize benefits.
The Outdoor Recreational Resources Review Commission, proposed and established by a Democratic Congress, is now at work and will report in 1961. It is everyone's hope that it will outline wise Federal policies and programs in all outdoor recreation fields. There is no need to wait until 1961, however, to implement the programs and deal with the problems that are already known to us. Problems of access, of reserving wilderness areas and improving fish and game management do not need to await a Commission report.
It was particularly tragic to the communities and recreational areas of the Nation when the bill to speed up pollution control was vetoed. This legislation was urgently needed. Cleaning up our great rivers would not only increase opportunity for fishermen ten or twenty fold, it would do it in areas where population is concentrated and where those opportunities are most urgently needed.
We still can have an abundance of recreational opportunities in America. Resources are still available. But they will soon be lost if we do not quickly go about conserving them and seeing that renewable resources such as fish and game are not only protected but increased to meet skyrocketing needs.