Private / Public Ventures Desk Guide

Joint Private and Public Sector Investment in
Forest Service Recreation Facilities and Services

USDA Forest Service - July 1996

You are not at an official USFS web site. The following material has been transcribed from the Forest Service document referenced above. Wild Wilderness obtained a hard-copy of this document by calling the USFS at (505) 842-3441.

The complete PPV Desk Guide is 102 pages in length. The small portion we have provided will give you a better understanding of what the Forest Service is referring to when they speak of "Private Public Ventures." This is a term the American people will be hearing with increasing frequency as the Forest Service continues its transition to Industrial Strength Recreation.

It is important that we understand that PPV is just one more tool that will be used to "commercialize, privatize and motorize" our nation's public lands. And, it is important to be aware that private industry, specifically the American Recreation Coalition, is deeply involved in the creation of this new public policy.

  • Text appearing in black is from the PPV Desk Guide

  • What is PPV?:

    The Concept   (page 1)

    Private/Public Ventures (PPV) contemplates private and public investments in recreation facilities and services on National Forest Service (NFS) lands. PPV combines FS recreation facilities and opportunities with the capital and business-management expertise of the private sector.

    In PPV, private capital is used to construct new, privately owned facilities or rehabilitate existing FS facilities. Types of facilities and services involved in PPV include campgrounds, day-use sites, marinas, nature trails, interpretive sites, camp stores, and visitor centers. The FS can contribute by providing land, existing facilities, and the opportunity for the private sector to furnish services. The FS may elect to develop some components of needed facilities, such as a road, water system, or boat launch.

    Through PPV, the public demand for additional recreation facilities and services can better be met, along with the urgent need to modernize existing facilities to meet health, safety, and accessibility requirements. The private sector has the opportunity to enter a business venture, and the local economy benefits from the creation of additional jobs.


    When and Why to Use PPV    (page 3)

    There are technical and philosophical issues to address in offering recreation facilities through PPV. For example:


    Requirements for an Economically Viable Proponent

    General Industry Standards    (page 14)

    The campground industry has identified some general standards that should be met to ensure a financially successful operation and investment. Criteria may vary, depending on the location of the project proposal. The following minimum standards may be used to compare typical private-sector development to FS developments:


    Other highly desirable features include:

    A project may not be economically viable unless these minimum standards are reasonably attainable.

    An Example of Preliminary Economic-Viability Analysis

    The proposal is to construct a 150-unit campground with 90 recreation-vehicle units with water and power hookups (sewagee is handled by centralized dumping stations). The remaining capacity is for tents and campers not requiring full service…


    Appendix C

    Sources of Potential Applicants   (page 43)


    ENDNOTE … not part of official text:

    Every organization listed in Appendix C is currently a Regular or Sustaining Member of the American Recreation Coalition. The Founder and Chairman of the American Recreation Coalition is also the current President of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, an industry trade group that represents some 95% of all RV sales and service in North America.

    Traditional uses of our public lands are being questioned as private industry assumes a greater role in their operation and management. In order to attract private investment, suitable economic returns must be assured. Unfortunately, there is little money to be made in allowing the public to enjoy raw nature as an amenity; "as something we Americans are privileged to enjoy." The potenital commodity value of nature is simply far too great to be left untapped, and so the cost of recreational access to public lands will rise to whatever level the market will bear. In the eyes of the USFS, wreckreation (recreation run as a revenue generator) is its new business. And we can be fairly confident that they will manage it, as they have managed every other extractive use on our public lands, for the benefit of corporations and to the detriment of the public and of the land itself.

    As the cost of recreation is allowed to soar, private enterprises will be encouraged to offer an ever greater array of commercialized recreation "products" which we, as consumers, may choose to purchase or forgo as our budget allows. These newly created "pay-for-play" products will encompass all of the traditional forest uses such as: hunting, fishing, hiking and nature watching. They will also include entirely new, and highly commercialized forms of eco-tainment, edu-tainment and wreckre-tainment. Proposals already under consideration include Theme Parks, tramways through wilderness areas and walkways suspended within the canopy of ancient forests. The process is called "Disneyfication" and the mechanism that will achieve this goal is PPV (Private / Public Ventures).

    So if, in the future, camping on public lands reminds you of camping at a KOA, you should not be surprised. The same company might well be managing both facilities.


    This document was prepared by Wild Wilderness. To learn more about ongoing industry-backed congressional efforts to motorize, commercialize, and privatize America's public lands, contact:

    Scott Silver, Executive Director
    248 NW Wilmington Avenue,  Bend  OR 97701
    Phone: (541) 385-5261    E-mail: