The National Park Services May Have Just Solved Their $11 Billion Budget Crisis

The National Park Services found a way to solve their $11 billion maintenance backlog crisis. That is right, a government agency just created a way to save the tax payers of America $11 billion. When was the last time you heard something like that come out of a federal agency?

…Chances are, you will hate this plan…

Whenever you visit National Parks, you almost always find out-dated facilities that are drastically in need of desperate modernizing. From understaffed visitor centers, to drinking fountains that don’t work, signage that is outdated and everything else possible, our National Parks are obscenely underfunded and are crumbling faster than most realize. Roads, bridges and other infrastructure repairs in the NPS are often broken, delayed and abandoned, sometimes temporary, sometimes indefinitely. At the current rate of Congressional funding, we will never repair the needs of the parks.

“Our needs are astronomic,” said Will Shafroth, executive director of the National Park Foundation, the park service’s fundraising arm. “The parks don’t have enough money to accomplish their goals.”

What is the NPS’s idea? It is a new one, a novel one:

Philanthropic partnerships with corporate donors.

Hold on. Don’t panic. Take a deep breath and relax. Don’t run off and share the stupid photoshop shit that crappy, wanna-be writers are plastering all over Facebook, preaching gloom and doom. There won’t be a Nike swoosh logo on Half Dome, folks. Just stop.

Before you jump on the panic bandwagon, take a second and think deep on the subject. In fact, we have some questions for you to ponder while you work on your snarky tweet to Mathias and comments for this post.

What’s your idea for that $11 billion backlog?

What do you propose the NPS should do?

Got any ideas?

And don’t give me ‘bernie-in-the-sky’ plans that are unrealistic. Think sustainable solutions, cause I’m not “feeling the bern” here. I also don’t believe the John Muir system of keeping everything as off limits except for those who “deserve wilderness” works. When John Muir was alive and exploring, the US population was around 60 million people. Today, it is nearly 350 million. We will not return to that low of a population, so we need a modern day solution and not some idealistic pipe dream.

Have any ideas yet?

No. Okay, then you’re not allowed to read on.

Yes? Send them to us on Twitter, and if I think they are better than what the NPS came up with, you can read on.

“Naming rights to roads are not up for grabs, but visitors could tour Bryce Canyon in a bus wrapped in the Michelin Man.”

“And park goers could sit on a bench named for Humana Health Insurance — and store their food in a bear-proof locker emblazoned with the Nike swoosh.”

Museums and other cultural entities have relied on this kind of arrangement for decades and it sucks that corporate sponsorship is required in the USA to get anything funded.  This is the freedom you signed up for, remember? We all want low taxes and we need to feel safe and protected from the endless fear of the outside world, which requires a military that could blow up the moon without even trying.

Yes, this could be handled differently, but not in this country and not in the 21st century. More than likely, you are not voting for the environment, you are not voting based on funding for National Parks. You are not writing your senators and representatives often, telling them to get off their legally-bribed asses to stand for wilderness and nature. No, most people who vote do so out of their care about guns, freedom and abortion rights. We are out of options, and pretty soon, the parks will either collapse or be completely inaccessible to all but those who have the time and money to visit America’s gems.

Personally, I’d rather have a park bench with a sponsor name on it than a road not reopened due to the lack of funding.

I rather see proper staffing levels during busy seasons to handle the needs of the current visitation levels swamping our parks. I want to see new ideas to attract, educate and inspire visitors to National Parks. I want visitors to want to save them and cherish them instead of watching a road get washed away, never to reopen. With every small or major natural disaster, I don’t want to fear that the popular trails of the region will become off-limits for an entire generation.

So, don’t buy the bullshit of the hype media.

According to the Washington Post article that seems to be gaining traction with fear-mongering,

“The park service still won’t recognize donors with advertising or marketing slogans. But for the first time, their logos will get prominent display. Companies will be able to earmark gifts for recurring park expenses, which was prohibited before. And a company in litigation with the Interior Department, the park service’s parent agency, could now donate as long as the dispute does not involve a National Park.

Bricks or paving stones on the steps to a visitor center, video screens inside, educational, interpretive, research, recreation and youth programs, positions or endowments — these also will get naming rights, according to the proposed policy. There could be walls in visitor centers dedicated to donors, or digital ones, as fundraising is beefed up through crowd-sourcing and other on-line strategies to reach the public.”

Seems pretty simple to me.

A sign on a bench or a sponsored visitor center is not going to ruin my National Park experience. In fact, if a sign near a parking lot ruins your experience in a NPS area, you probably already don’t like the areas needing the most infrastructure repairs. Director Jonathan Jarvis is putting up a necessary, realistic and bold proposal on the table and I for one think it’s a good idea.

Don’t like this? Come up with a different solution. Help create a political climate that promotes the environment and National Parks. Vote for someone who would be willing to create a government agency that helps rebuild infrastructure the same way FDR did with the CCC and WPA.

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By Doug and Mathias on the Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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