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HOME arrow BLOG arrow Privatization and Red Ink
Privatization and Red Ink
Written by Scott Silver   
Thursday, 11 February 2010

Today "Privatization" is being presented as the solution to just about everything. No one should be surprised. Amongst the first words on this website's most visited page are these:

  •  Access to public lands is deliberately being manipulated for the benefit of campground associations, private concessionaires, manufacturers and users of motorized sports vehicles, and giant tourist and recreation corporations.
  •  Congressional budgetary cuts are intentionally creating a maintenance crisis for federally managed recreation lands and facilities.
  •  The rescue of a badly decayed system of National Parks and recreational lands, through private corporate investment, is the planned outcome of this strategy.

Written in 1998, shortly after the passage of legislation that authorize the charging of fees to access federally-managed public lands, we explained where the new rec-fee program would end up. We described that final destination in additional bullet points within this same document, saying:

  •  A highly influential business consortium called American Recreation Coalition (ARC) is PAYING to implement this trail fee program on your Public Lands and they are counting on enormous returns for their investment.
  •  ARC's ultimate objective is to acquire for its corporate benefactors, 'rights' to develop and operate recreational facilities upon these Public Lands.

Well folks, that long anticipated end point is rapidly approaching.

Appended is an article from today's Salt Lake Tribune titled "Privatization a Red Ink remedy". Apparently lawmakers are now busily suggesting that parks be turned over to KOA -- which is precisely what KOA's President suggested in Congressional Testimony given in 1998.

I would add that when that testimony was given, the presenter served on the ARC's Board of Directors  and his company was (as they remain today) a "Sustaining Member" of the ARC.  And yes, we appreciate that this example deals with State Parks and not federal lands. We offer it to suggest that no public lands, whether federal or state owned, are safe.


--- begin quoted ---

Privatization a red ink remedy?
Sen. Chris Buttars proposal was the most sweeping of the plans to make ends
By Robert Gehrke - Salt Lake Tribune

Lawmakers looking to balance the state parks' budget heard proposals ranging from a big-game hunt on Antelope Island to letting KOA campgrounds run some parks.

The park system is already looking at a cut of at least $615,000 from its $31.7 million budget, and more could be coming. The director of the parks system, Mary Tullius, said she worries what additional cuts could mean.

"We have been doing more with less. Now we're doing less with less," she said.

To help make ends meet, Rep. Mike Noel, R-Kanab, proposed expanding the big-game hunt on Antelope Island. He said that granting two tags for deer and two for bighorn sheep could bring in as much as $500,000 per year from eager hunters.

There is already some bison hunting allowed on the island, according to the division, but the state has not permitted other hunts.

But Noel's proposal was not nearly as sweeping as the changes pitched by Sen. Chris Buttars, R-West Jordan, who recommended contracting with private businesses to run the state parks.

"We got a lot of wonderful parks. We got a lot of parks that lose money, too," he said. "I don't think there's any losers in this."

Buttars hoped to realize $35 million in savings from the effort, although just $11.6 million of the state parks budget comes directly from taxpayers -- the rest comes from fees and a portion of boating and off-highway vehicle registrations.

Tullius said privatizing the state parks may require returning control of some lakes over to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

And 19 parks include property purchased with federal funds, so the state might have to repay the federal government.

Buttars said that explanation strengthened his resolve.

"We're a slave to the federal government, and I'm sick of it," Buttars said. "Let's figure out a way to start getting out from under their thumb. If this state's ever going to stand up on its own, we need to quit taking federal funds."

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 February 2010 )

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