PRESIDENT Reagan's appointment last week of a commission on parks and recreation is a key step toward establishing a long-range national policy for preserving, improving, and expanding natural assets in the United States -- such as national parks and recreation and wilderness areas. Twelve members, widely representative of major segments of the American community, were appointed. This fulfills plans disclosed in January, when Mr. Reagan announced appointment of Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander as chairman of the President's Commission on Americans Outdoors.
Use of natural areas under local, state, and national jurisdictions continues to increase. Money and manpower to deal with the effects of more-intensive use is not keeping pace, largely because of budget constraints. While some new areas are being added to park and recreation systems, overall the amount of land open to the public is shrinking.
The commission is to report its recommendations to the President by the end of 1986. At about the same time, the National Parks and Recreation Association, a private conservation group, will publish a ``Comprehensive National Park System Plan,'' which it is now working on.
If Congress passes a proposed National Park System Protection and Resources Management Act, first introduced in 1983 and twice approved by the House of Representatives, the nation will have three major tools for addressing the myriad problems confronting the nation's parks, recreational, scenic, and wilderness areas.