Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Geography and Anthropology

First Advisor

Carville Earle


This dissertation examines policies that affect natural resources and outdoor recreation management by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) at its reservior projects located throughout the United States. The Corps is responsible for a large civil water-resources development and management program in addition to its military responsibilities. The agency has undergone many policy changes which have affected the development of the nation's water resources and the public uses that are made of those developments. Recreation and fish-and-wildlife are by-products of reservoirs which were developed for navigation, flood control, and other conventional purposes. The Corps is the largest supplier of water-oriented recreation in the United States, although it has jurisdiction over only two percent of the federal land available for recreation. A conceptual model of policy development and agency responses is described from the literature. The main policy changes which affected the Corps' natural-resource and recreation functions and the times that they occurred are identified. Events leading up to the policies and the Corps' response to the policies are described, and the Corps' reaction to the policies are compared with the conceptual model. Geographic impacts of the policy actions are identified. The Corps' current situation is discussed and predictions are made about future direction of the agency based on the history of the Corps' behavior relative to significant policy events. The study is presented in three time periods: (1) from the beginning of the Corps at the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775 to the first legal authority for the Corps to manage recreation and fish-and-wildlife in 1944; (2) from 1944 to the passage of the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970; and (3) from 1970 to the present. The study concludes that the Corps has generally followed the conceptual model of incremental policy development. Agency responses have ranged from strong resistance to acquiescience to enthusiastic support.