Department of Interior Could Allow Private Companies to Run National Park Campgrounds
"The Trump administration is moving forward with an ambitious plan to give private businesses greater access to national parks, according to a memorandum written by an advisory council for the Department of the Interior," reports Alexander Nazaryan.
Interior Secretary David Bernhardt makes the case for allowing more private business to run concessions in national parks by pointing to the $12 billion in deferred maintenance at national parks. "Private businesses — including concessionaires and tour guides — already operate in many national parks," according to Nazaryan.
"The Sept. 24 memorandum, which was written for the Department of the Interior’s Subcommittee on Recreation Enhancement Through Reorganization, says that privatization should begin as a pilot program 'in park units with low levels of visitor services.' But eventually that program would be exported to other agencies within the Interior Department that manage public lands, including the Bureau of Land Management and the Fish and Wildlife Service."
More details on the memo (including the author of the memo, who is not an Interior official, but the president of American Recreation Coalition, a lobbyist for the increased use of private companies in national parks) are included in the article.
The National Parks system has been the focus of antagonism throughout the Trump administration. The previous secretary of the Interior attempted to triple admissions fees at some national parks. The Trump administration also raided national parks funding to pay for the "Salute to America" parade and rally earlier this year. The disconnect between the Trump administration and parks supporters also provoked mass resignations from the National Park Service advisory board in 2018.