Originally Posted by bansai
I'm against it. I head to the outdoors for a lot of reasons, as I'm sure we all do, one of mine is to not be bombarded by advertising. (snip)
The parks have been saying my entire life that they need more money. Fees have increased dramatically in the last 30 years, outpacing inflation by my calculations.
If they want more revenue, they should build more parks, instead of trying to corporatize our national treasures.
All that said - this is a big problem - "Lawmakers slashed the NPS budget by 8% between 2005 and 2014." I don't get how our fees keep going up, yet their budget shrinks? Sounds like fraud doesn't it?
I am not going to try to defend the NPS's budgetary management. I believe they could certainly manage better and more efficiently. However, the things you've posted (that I've bolded) are not a solution.
Yes, the parks have always been saying that they need more money, and yes their fees have increased dramatically during that time. But building more parks is not the answer, and in fact, it is the very problem. Congress, but especially Presidents like to bolster their legacy by creating additional parks and national monuments. Only Congress can create national parks, but presidents can make national monuments by declaration...and every president does this. Here is a link to all 90 of the national monuments created by presidential proclamation, the huge majority of which are administered by the NPS:
And then there are the 56 national parks (26 created since 1964), 10 national seashores (all but one created since 1960), 4 national lakeshores (all created since the 1960's), 20 national preserves, 3 national reserves, 50 national historical parks, 90 historic sites, 4 battlefield parks, 35 national memorial parks, 12 national battlefields, 8 national military parks, 18 national recreation areas, 15 national wild and scenic rivers, 10 national parkways, 23 national historic and scenic trails, 14 national cemetaries, 44 national capital parks, and 9 other areas. A grand total of over 84 million acres.
The NPS has an ever-increasing acreage and workload to administer. The maintenance budget and deferred maintenance problem alone is monumental. Infrastructure in the parks is generally in terrible condition, facilities are old, decaying, and certainly many don't meet standards such as ADA compliance.
People think of the large, charismatic parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Glacier, etc. and how they are always busy with lots of people and making lots of money. But many small national parks, and many battlefields, national monuments and the myriad other places the NPS manages don't generate such a revenue stream.
While it may be good to have these lands protected from development, it is a monumental task for an agency that has a budget that has had only modest increases over the years. Again, I am not defending the NPS budget or saying it should be more - just presenting information. In 2016, the NPS had a $3 billion dollar operating budget and a maintenance backlog of $12 billion.
Here's how the money is spent:
Functional area FY 2010
Resource stewardship 15%
Visitor services 11%
Park protection 16%
Facility maintenance and operations 31%
Park support 20%
External administrative costs 7%
The number of Full Time Equavalent staff at the NPS has actually gone down since 2010.
So...creating more areas for the NPS to manage is NOT the answer to funding the parks. I am not a fan of corporate sponsorship either. In some circumstances, it can be done discretely and tactfully and in fact, several large corporations do contribute to the national parks in a tasteful and discrete way and you don't even know it. I don't like the idea of corporate sponsorship, but that $12 billion maintenance backlog is only going to get worse and buildings, roads, and facilities are only going to get worse as maintenance gets further deferred.