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America's National Parks: Funding

Veteran News
Veteran News
August 19, 2016
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America's National Parks need about 12 Billion dollars just to get up to date on necessary park maintenance, but they haven't received any increase in government funding. Between 2013 and 2015, the park service received on average about $2.5 billion from Congress. The parks also charge small fees to visitors, but that usually brings in about $1 billion annually. So, desperate for funds, the National Park Service is turning to corporations for help.The parks already do gain some funding from charitable donations made by big companies such as Coca Cola, Subaru, and Disney, but this new type of help would be a little different. Rather than donations, the parks would generate revenue through sponsorship and naming rights by displaying company logos. The logos could appear on park benches, landscaped areas, equipment, vehicles, theater seats, and even the paving stones under visitors' feet.


"One of the things that we find most disturbing is what guides the decisions is, in the words of the proposal, the needs of the donor, not the needs of the park," said Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.The proposal does not allow the renaming of the parks themselves (Disney National Park will not be coming anytime soon), but many employees and visitors are concerned about the implications of this shift in funding. Clutter from all this advertising may take away from the aesthetic of the parks, and corporations may push for more control and charge higher entrance fees to offset the mounting costs of upkeep.This idea for funding "America's best idea," isn't new. The Government shutdown in 2013 closed many National Park areas and highlighted the desperate need for funding. Calls to reopen the parks during the shutdown were blocked. Today, the increasing tension between adopting new parks and maintaining the old ones has drained the already inadequate budget. Funding tends to go toward the former, because government leaders can tout the openings of these new parks to their communities. The National Parks will be celebrating their centennial this year, and to highlight on that occasion the Obama administration has introduced a request for more funding (about 900 million).To put that in perspective, the repairs at Yosemite National Park alone that they consider "critical" total at about 100 million.

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