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History of OPRD
Land to Legacy
 
 
Talk to anyone in Oregon and you will eventually hear about their love affair with this place. Whether you are a 10th generation Oregonian, moved here last year, or visited the state for a vacation, the place takes a hold of all of us in a thousand ways.
 
The story you're about to see is about how Oregon State Parks came to define that special relationship with the outdoors for so many people in Oregon. How it came to connect us to our natural environment, and to our culture. How it got its start, how it has grown up, and what it means in the life of the people here.
 
This three-part video (approximately four minutes each)  tells the story of how Oregon State Parks grew from a few highway waysides into the renowned park system we have today.
 
Land to Legacy

 

1921-2008
Silver Falls State Park - 1921 
 
Milestones in OPRD history
 
1921
Oregon State Parks is "born" as part of Oregon's highway system.
 
1922
Land for Oregon's first state park, Sarah Helmick State Park, is deeded to the state. 
 
1929
Samuel H. Boardman is appointed state parks superintendent. The "father of Oregon State Parks" adds more than 50,000 acres of new parkland in the 21 years that follow. 
 
1933
Works Progress Administration (WPA) and Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) era begins. This massive, Depression-era relief work builds roads, trails & buildings at 45 state parks.
 
1952
Postwar recreation demands lead to developed campgrounds in 27 parks across the state.
 
1957
First permanent State Parks Advisory Committee established. Uniforms for rangers appear.
 
1965
The federal Land and Water Conservation Fund Act of 1964 brings grant administration, widespread planning responsibilities to Parks.
 
1967
Oregon Beach Bill. Parks later assumes responsibility for ocean shoreline.
 
State Historic Preservation Office created.
 
1970
Oregon Scenic Waterways Act passed.
 
Friends of Tryon Creek State Park becomes the first (unofficial) “friends group” in Oregon.
 
1971
Parks takes on responsibility for statewide recreational trails system.
 
Mail-in reservations begin.
 
1973
Willamette River Greenway program introduced. First master plan by park staff written (Bowers Rocks State Park).
 
1979
Volunteer hosts become an organized part of Parks.
 
1980
Parks funding from gas tax abolished.
 
1981
Seasonal day-use fees introduced at 21 parks.
 
1985
Legislation enabling Friends Groups is passed.
 
1989
Legislation creates Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
 
1993
Discovery Season (discounts on camping in spring and fall) introduced.
 
1995
Oregon Heritage Commission added.
 
1996
New, centralized reservation call center opens in Portland. Replaces mail-in reservations.
 
Chronic financial pressure forces the Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission to consider closing some 64 properties. Emergency funding from the Legislature averts the crisis.
 
1998
Measure 66 passes. Dedicates Lottery funds to State Parks for grants, new parks and infrastructure repair. Funds end in 2014, unless voters reauthorize.
 
Oregon celebrates its first State Parks Day, the first Saturday in June.
 
1999
ATV permits and grants move to Parks. Oregon Commission on Historic Cemeteries also added.
 
2000
Oregon Parks and Recreation Commission adopts “Target 2014” goals. Spells out business direction for Lottery dollars.
 
2004
Governor Ted Kulongoski announces park-a-year initiative.
 
2005
Oregon State Fair and Exposition Center becomes part of OPRD.
 
2007
Stub Stewart State Park opens. It is the first new park/campground to open in 30 years.
 
2008
Parks takes on responsibility for Capitol Mall grounds.
 Silver Falls State Park - 1921

Additional resources
 
 
Centennial Horizon

The state park system will be a century old in 2022. In these last hundred years, Oregonians have toiled to build a park system Oregonians can regard with pride. But what's next? What will the park system look like as it approaches its centennial, and what will the next 100 years look like? What is our ideal future? What will it take to get there?
2022: One hundred years of special places
 
  
Information listed below available through the
 Oregon State Library Online Catalog
 
Oregon's Highway Park System, 1921-1989 : An Administrative History (1992)
 
Oregon State Parks : History, 1917-1963 / compiled by Chester H. Armstrong  (1965)
 
 
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