Before stepping down as the National Park Service (NPS) Director on January 3rd, 2017, Jonathan Jarvis responded to the $12.5 billion backlog of the parks’ maintenance. He approved a contentious rule on corporate fundraising in the national parks. With the new rule, corporate donors may get recognized for their contribution by having their names engraved on things like benches, pathways, plaza, landscaping area or even a brick in the parks. NPS may also get into partnership with and even accept donations from corporations that are involved in alcohol distribution.
Responding to this new rule, Kristen Strader a Public Citizen campaign coordinator said that this change could lead to too much commercial influence in the running of National Parks in the US. Consumer Advocacy organizations have also opposed the new rule and hoped that the final draft of the same will address some of the contentious issues.
After the rule was announced, the Park Service received an excess of 350 public views regarding the rule, during the 45 day review period of the same. This may have contributed to the adjustments that were made to it. For instance, the rule now states that corporate logos cannot appear in National Parks, but instead, credit lines will be given on NPS signage to credit corporate donors.
More to that, adjustments to the rule now stipulate that there will be limited donor recognition in national parks and commercialization of national parks and park superintendents will not be allowed as a way to solicit donations for NPS. Federal law actually backs up NPS on this rule.
Although the backlog in the parks is as a direct result of funding challenges, all parties agree that corporate influence on the national parks should be minimal and the NPS cannot give in to corporate demands even though they are in serious need of funding. They feel that the federal budget should this year ensure that they allocate funding to cater for the backlog in national parks.
In January, Rep. Ryan Zinke promised to inherit the National Park Service backlog if he was confirmed as Trump’s administrator. Given the previous gag on NPS and defiance of some NPS officials to the ban, it is not clear if the government will be very keen on putting effort and allocating resources towards the rehabilitation of national parks which are in dire need of a facelift. Roads in the parks need fixing, trails are out of shape, restrooms are unclean and most sewer systems don’t work. Whether finances needed to get the job done will come from the federal government or corporate donors, reality is, National Parks in the USA need attention.
Being a park ranger in the USA right now is a bit of a challenge as the work environment is wanting yet park rangers have an obligation to do everything in their power to take care of the parks, maintain them and ensure that they are safe for all individuals.
Cathy is the main web designer and blogger at Park-Ranger.Org, your online resource for up-to-date, comprehensive information about the educational and certification requirements for aspiring park rangers. Cathy is a health nut and when we don’t have her chained to her desk (kidding) you can usually find her training for the closest marathon, or just to keep up with her adorable children.