Home / Fall 2013 / Conservation, not closure

Conservation, not closure

Written by: Stephen Cavallaro 

If the recent government shutdown has shown us anything, it is that government is not necessary to enjoy the simplicity of nature.

The shutdown has caused the closure of 401 national parks.

As the Republicans and Democrats battle each other in Washington, one of the federal government’s only money-making operations, the national parks, remains unattended.

Yet there exists a simple solution that will ensure the safety of the parks that millions of Americans hold dear and also allow the government to make some money—privatization of the national parks.

Privatizing publicly funded parks has been an issue debated for years. Through the National Park Service, the government dominates the national park industry.

Like many centralized planned entities the National Park Service is exempt from having to effectively manage their product. Whereas the private company must run a good show in order to appeal to the typical park patron.

A study conducted in Arizona by the Property and Environment Research Center compared two parks, one privately managed the other managed by the government. The study concluded that in 2010 the privately managed park ended the fiscal year with a net gain. The public park had a net loss.

When people think about privatizing the parks, the idea of big businesses trampling over the protected land in order to build supermalls and fast-food restaurants comes to mind. Unfortunately, commercialism is not part of the plan.

The idea is to sell the parks to people in the park industry or to non-profit organizations and environmentalist groups led by America’s top “eco-terrorists.”

These groups are in the park business, and their goal is to run a park successfully and attract patrons. In addition, the company would work in conjunction with the government.

The process is simple. The private company manages the parks, while the land remains in the hands of the people. The company pays rent to the government through gained revenue, usually from park admissions, in addition to all park and operating expenses.

Labor would be cheaper and specialized, thereby, creating and maintaining jobs. Also, workers would be paid during the months they actually work and not during the off season, which is the current case.

With this idea enacted, we can ensure that our beloved national parks will be safer, more efficient, better preserved, managed and protected from both big government and corporatism.

The shutdown has hit home, and 11 parks across Georgia have been closed by the feds. According to Thomas Taylor, assistant director of CORE Outdoors at VSU, if the shutdown continues, a planned backpacking trip to the Grand Canyon during the Thanksgiving break may have to be canceled.

The Associated Press reported that as of Monday, the closure of the Grand Canyon has invoked federal officials to issue 21 citations, to patrons trying to visit the site. These victims must appear in federal court.

But Georgia has used the method of park privatization this summer when the state turned over management of five state parks to private management.

Privatizing the parks will eliminate all government red tape. No tax revenue would be necessary to fund the parks, keeping the parks out of Congress’ budget battles. This means the parks would remain open during a government shutdown.

Through privatization of the national parks we are re-opening the gates to freedom. We are ensuring that our nation remains beautiful for generations to come.

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