April 09, 2013

Would you pay more for a national parks visit?

My short answer, to this High Country News story, is "no."

Here's my slightly longer answer.

I would pay more IF, and a big IF: Team Obama went back to letting us buy just a Parks Pass, rather than the bundled user pass for USFS, BLM, Reclamation, etc. Until then, fuhgeddabouit it, especially with subsidizing USFS and BLM.

Let me add that, so far, I've heard little about Team Obama planning for the NPS centennial, which will happen on his watch. And I'm afraid that too much privatized planning will mean too much corporatized planning.

That said, the "bundled" pass was designed deliberately to hit up people who love national parks with contributing money for Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management sites.

And that's rather than dunn loggers for adequately repairing forest service roads, rangers for marketplace grazing fees, and the oil and gas industry for the costs of drilling on BLM land.

In case you hadn't guessed, it was during the Bush Administration that the "Interagency Pass" was foisted upon us. However, Team Obama's had four years and counting to go back to the old system, and hasn't.

On a second reading, the article's disappointing in other ways. Where's the mention of higher concessionaire fees for the privilege of having a monopoly inside a national park, for example?

Of course, given that author Heather Hansen mentions the National Parks Hospitality Association as among ppl who "want my ideas," I have a bit more reason to "understand" why she didn't mention increased concessionaire fees.

I also totally disagree with the "tip jar" idea, as I have in the past with Texas state parks. It can guilt-trip people of more limited means visiting parks. It can absolve the federal (state) government of responsibility to fund parks more, and to point out their broader benefits.

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