Around the headquarters of the National Park Service, the joke these days is that the agency soon will be getting a new name: The National Pork Service.

Over the objections of Park Service officials, Congress this year targeted money for dozens of projects and acquisitions that the agency says have little to do with its mission: preserving the nation's natural and cultural heritage.

They include an industrial theme park for southwestern Pennsylvania, an old railyard in the same state, a historic, four-screen movie theater in West Virginia and the birthplace of Franklin D. Roosevelt's secretary of state. All told, Congress appropriated $271 million in new construction funds for the Park Service, more than three times the administration request.

The projects have irritated Park Service officials, who say they should not be in the business of local economic development. In a memo to Park Service Director James M. Ridenour, officials suggested that the new projects are "thinning the blood" of the agency and that it should find a way to unload some of them.

"It's really a question of the direction of the Park Service -- whether it concentrates on protecting and making accessible the traditional, crown-jewel type parks, or whether it becomes . . . a repository for what are in essence economic development type projects," said George Rasley, the assistant director for legislative affairs and author of the memo.

"Not every region merits a historic corridor. We know about the Yellowstones and Grand Canyons and Yosemites, and we ought to concentrate on protecting them."

The Park Service always has been a favorite place for Congress to spend money, and in some respects the Reagan and Bush administrations have helped foster the evolution of "park barrel" politics.

Starting with President Ronald Reagan's first interior secretary, James G. Watt, the executive branch has sought to limit the expansion of the park system, concentrating on the improvement of existing facilities. Congress has responded with its own initiatives, many with the agency's tacit approval.

But Park Service officials say that while they are all for acquiring new parks or historic sites of genuinely national significance, many of the initiatives contained in this year's bill do not fall into that category. Moreover, they say, the process of including them in the appropriations bill, often at the last minute and without open debate, deprives the public of any oversight.

"Almost all the new properties and additions are coming in without benefit of professional scrutiny by the National Park Service, public involvement or congressional hearings," said a Park Service official who asked not to be identified. "The national park system is mandated to represent the best, the premiere natural and cultural sites of this country, but many of the sites that have come in over the last year are at best of state significance."

The official suggested that lawmakers are turning to the Park Service to fund projects out of concern for faltering local economies.

Projects in this year's spending bill include:

America's Industrial Heritage. At the behest of Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.), Congress included $13 million in planning and construction costs for the project, which covers industrial sites in nine Pennsylvania counties. "It was so important in forming the industrial backbone of the country," said a Murtha spokesman, who noted that the region includes the nation's "first aluminum factory."

"It's sort of a combination of economic development and {the} National Park Service," he said.

A new visitor center at Fort Larned National Historic Site in Larned, Kan. Park Service officials had rejected a new visitor center in long-term plans, concluding that the existing facility was adequate. But Park Service officials said it was resurrected through the efforts of Senate Minority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), who helped procure $590,000 for the project.

Steamtown. Situated in Scranton, Pa., this railyard and its antique locomotives have received millions in Park Service appropriations since its designation as a National Historic Site in 1986. Congress included $11 million in this year's budget. But not everyone thinks the money is well spent. Interviewed recently in the magazine American Heritage of Invention and Technology, John White, the Smithsonian Institution's former transportation curator, called Steamtown "a third-rate collection in a place to which it had no relevance, and its denomination as a national historic site was simply a political trick."

Cordell Hull National Historic Site in Tennessee. Congress approved $500,000 in planning funds for a park and museum built around the birthplace of Cordell Hull, Roosevelt's secretary of state. "We don't do secretaries of state and never have," said a Park Service official who requested anonymity. "We do presidents."

A spokeswoman for Sen. Albert Gore Jr. (D-Tenn.), who helped secure the funds, noted that Hull was the nation's longest serving secretary of state and a Nobel laureate. "He was no ordinary secretary of state," she said.

The Keith-Albee Theater in Huntington, W.Va. At the behest of Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.Va.), Congress appropriated $4.5 million to renovate this historic theater, now a four-screen "multiplex" cinema.

Writing for an in-house magazine recently, Ridenour said he is "concerned that we are spreading our limited resources over a growing base and that, as a result, we may suffer the possibility of sliding into mediocrity."

Rasley's memo proposed the possibility of seeking legislation that would authorize the "mothballing" of some facilities and transferring others to local governments. Rasley acknowledged, however, that carrying out the proposal would "require a great deal of political will." A spokesman for Ridenour said he had not yet seen the memo.