Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Interior secretary proposes privatized campgrounds

A proposal by the U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has local campers nervous. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Zinke said the federal government shouldn’t be cashing in on campgrounds, but that they should instead be privately run. Shannon Jester, who spends about six months every year in a tent, said he likes his campgrounds just as they are right now. He said he worries turning campsites private could take away their beauty. “I just love being outdoors and being able to spend time in nature,” he said. “It's really nice here. New Mexico has a lot of nice places that are like this that you can go to.” In 2016, New Mexico got nearly $108 million from roughly 2 million park visits, a number that’s been on the rise for several years. It’s not just New Mexico that’s seeing a growing trend. Nationally, 331 million park visits raked in more than $18 billion. “All the places that they never even heard of and we got to go and experience that for a much-reduced rate compared to privatized parks,” Jester said. “It has government protections. I think if it were privatized, it would probably become like Disneyland.”...more

Come on people, this is not privatization. The campgrounds are not going to become private property. Zinke has made it abundantly clear the transfer of lands out of federal ownership is not going to happen on his watch. This is a proposed public-private partnership. All federal laws will still apply.

This article explains:

Zinke wants to help the National Park Service budget partly by outsourcing. He wants more campground management roles, transportation and telecommunications functions given to private industry contractors. “We are going to have more public-private partnerships soon. I think that’s where the industry should be going,” Zinke told RVIA attendees at the special luncheon. The interior secretary stressed that the RV park industry “knows the market better.” He wants private industry should have more of a role in America’s National Parks. Outsourcing to privately-owned businesses is nothing new in public parks. Concessionaire companies oversee many campgrounds throughout the National Park System.
It is simply an expansion of an existing program. Encountering the word "private" seems to drive certain people into an all out frenzy.

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