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Author Topic: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?  (Read 636 times)

Camper054

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Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« on: October 11, 2019, 09:47:53 PM »
Hi all,

I just got this in my news feed...

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/465416-committee-pushes-national-park-service-to-privatize-camp-grounds

I am scared  - what do you all think?

SeilerBird

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2019, 09:59:31 PM »
Quote
...the U.S. park service faces a $12 billion maintenance backlog.

They could take the 12 billion out of the defense budget.
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Arch Hoagland

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2019, 10:13:19 PM »
I've got a $10 bill that says no one on the committee ever camped a day in their life.
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Isaac-1

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2019, 11:39:16 PM »
Given the cost of everything else associated with visiting a national park, the current campground rates are trivial, what is not trivial is trying to get a reservation.  If privatizing would mean updating the campgrounds, trimming trees lining the camping loops, and maybe even include adding more campgrounds, I would be all for it.
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lynnmor

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2019, 12:50:20 AM »
Keep in mind that federal employees are an expense till the day they die with their pensions and benefits.  Private companies might just be what is needed to reduce the never ending expenses.

SeilerBird

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2019, 05:34:12 AM »
Given the cost of everything else associated with visiting a national park, the current campground rates are trivial, what is not trivial is trying to get a reservation.  If privatizing would mean updating the campgrounds, trimming trees lining the camping loops, and maybe even include adding more campgrounds, I would be all for it.
Adding more campgrounds in a National Park is almost impossible considering the current rules and regulations of the park service. It is even tough to trim trees in one.
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John From Detroit

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2019, 06:26:58 AM »
This is a policy I recall from Michigan.. Michigan passed a balanced budget bill so our Then Govermanure sold off some state land and most importantly the state health lab, Lock Stock and patents.. One of which is the flu vaccine.

So he balanced the budget.. one year... at the cost of all following years.

Many National park campgrounds (Example Grand Canyon) are already privatized.
Nothing adds excitement like something that is none of your business
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Old_Crow

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2019, 06:58:50 AM »
Since I work for a concessionaire that manages campgrounds for the Forest Service, the TVA, and some state parks, I was kinda okay with parts of the article...until they got to the part about limiting use of the senior pass on some dates.
I tend to use the heck out of my senior pass when we aren't working, and I don't like the idea of them adding limits all of a sudden.
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DouglasB12

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2019, 07:32:49 AM »
Any time an idea like this comes up, the idea is to take a national resource and transfer as much money from it into the hands of a private business.  These are *national* (or state) parks that are meant to be available for ALL Amerincans - not to be used as a means to extract as much money as possible from campers and place in the hands of private individuals.

HARD PASS on the idea of privatizing!!!!

Back2PA

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2019, 07:39:42 AM »
Any time an idea like this comes up, the idea is to take a national resource and transfer as much money from it into the hands of a private business.  These are *national* (or state) parks that are meant to be available for ALL Amerincans - not to be used as a means to extract as much money as possible from campers and place in the hands of private individuals.

HARD PASS on the idea of privatizing!!!!

Agree completely. This is a matter of priorities - there seems to be unlimited money for some things in the federal budget, but replacing a rotted park bench is presented as a budget crisis.
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Dragginourbedaround

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2019, 07:56:17 AM »
I've got a $10 bill that says no one on the committee ever camped a day in their life.
I'll take that bet.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2019, 08:13:16 AM »
I have mixed emotions on this subject, but fear mostly dominates the potential benefits.  Without some specific proposal as to how this might work while still protecting the park resources and public access, it's hard to guess whether this might be a boon or a disaster.

There aren't many actual federal employees cleaning park toilets, though.  Many parks now operate with contract staff, either part time help or with the entire park run by a concessionaire. They still have to follow federal & state policies, though, and nothing changes much.

The Senior discount is a terrific perq for seniors but probably un-affordable to the parks.   If we can afford to buy recreational vehicles, it's hard to claim that we seniors couldn't afford to use the parks without a huge discount.   I think it is unconscionable for seniors to complain about the lack of services and improvements in parks, yet insist that their 50% discount is inviolable.    Seniors ought to be willing to pony up more to support parks, maybe reducing the discount to 20% on camping fees and keeping the 50% only for general admission fees.    But then I look at the tax give-aways for the super-wealthy and wonder why seniors can't get some extra breaks too
« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 08:16:35 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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ChasA

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2019, 08:18:03 AM »
Time for another tax cut for the 1%. That'll fix it.
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UTTransplant

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2019, 10:08:17 AM »
The Senior discount is a terrific perq for seniors but probably un-affordable to the parks.   If we can afford to buy recreational vehicles, it's hard to claim that we seniors couldn't afford to use the parks without a huge discount.   I think it is unconscionable for seniors to complain about the lack of services and improvements in parks, yet insist that their 50% discount is inviolable.    Seniors ought to be willing to pony up more to support parks, maybe reducing the discount to 20% on camping fees and keeping the 50% only for general admission fees.    But then I look at the tax give-aways for the super-wealthy and wonder why seniors can't get some extra breaks too
I bolded the part of your comment I feel strongly about Gary. If we didn’t have a senior pass, we would buy an annual entry pass for $80 a year, just like we did for the numerous years we were under 62. If we didn’t have a discount on camping inside the park, we would pay the (still inexpensive) fee to camp. But I have an acquaintance who went nuts and threatened a reporter for the Salt Lake Tribune who wrote about getting rid of the discount. He was virulent enough that he got a police visit. This guy has a decent retirement income and travels both domestically and internationally plus has some expensive hobbies. But ask him to pay the same fee a family with kids has to pay? Heresy!

What we do is drop a $10 or $20 bill in the donation box at the park visitor center in each park we visit. It goes directly to the park, no middle men. Not as much as an entry fee, but it doesn’t take staff to collect it either.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 11:33:36 AM by UTTransplant »
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muskoka guy

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #14 on: October 12, 2019, 10:23:14 AM »
We swung south through Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont on our way back to Ontario from visiting NFLD and the east coast of Canada. We went to Acadia NP near Bar Harbour Maine, and paid $32 for a week day pass to the park. Continuing east, we decided to stop at Mount Washington National Forest in New Hampshire. Upon arrival we are told our US national park pass is no good there, as it is a private venue that runs it. They wanted almost $60 dollar US to drive up the mountain to the scenic look out. If this is what privatization looks like, I suggest you wont save any money in the long run. All it would do is pad the pockets of private companies, and make your public lands more unaffordable to lower income families. We always buy a national park pass for the US and Canada every year. 

Pugapooh

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #15 on: October 12, 2019, 12:51:21 PM »
I've never stayed in a national park and doubt I will get the chance. 

Privatize?  Who in the one percent will own it?  Sounds like it will make the rich richer.  Yes,federal employees will have benefits after they retire.  Not a problem to me.  I think people should be able to retire before they die.  Private Employers seem to dump their older employees before they have to pay any retirement. 

50% off is a very generous discount.imo.  Seems fair that the prime camping season cost the same for everybody.

Just my thoughts.
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irishtom29

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #16 on: October 12, 2019, 03:58:56 PM »
I despise the notion of a business running a public park which should exist for the common good, not as a means to feed our money to a capitalist. And this privatization means many people will have less access rather than more  to things to which they've a right to benefit.

As is common those who will benefit by privatization try to convince us that what's good for us is really bad for us and what's good for them is good for us.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2019, 04:06:35 PM by irishtom29 »

taoshum

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #17 on: October 12, 2019, 05:03:46 PM »
There are some things that don't need to run the "privatization" gauntlet.  The NPs are already commercialized to an almost Disneyland level... a major draw for tourists... I don't know where the limits lie but we now avoid some NPs because of the crowds or go at low season times... usually when it gets cold.  Yosemite, Yellowstone, Arches, Zion and the GC are too much these days.  Nonetheless, if you go to the "back country" in the NPs, there's not many humans.
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SeilerBird

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #18 on: October 12, 2019, 05:22:55 PM »
Yosemite is almost 1200 square miles yet 99% of the tourists spend their entire time in the 7 square miles of the valley.
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muskoka guy

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #19 on: October 12, 2019, 06:30:10 PM »
Its funny how during the depression, they managed to find money to build huge projects like Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, Golden Gate Bridge etc,etc. etc. Now they cant find enough money to run a campground that is half run by volunteers, {or should be}. I think someone has their hand in the cookie jar.

NY_Dutch

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #20 on: October 12, 2019, 07:55:40 PM »
Two of our favorite campgrounds are concessionaire operated in National Forests and both are very well run with updated facilities and good maintenance. The Senior Access Pass rates can be a little confusing though, since only the base rate is discounted, not the extra charges for full hookups, etc. That still puts both of them at about $22/night for full hookups though. Not bad for central Florida in the peak winter season and Asheville, NC in the spring.
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Larry N.

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #21 on: October 13, 2019, 05:29:39 AM »
Quote
Continuing east, we decided to stop at Mount Washington National Forest in New Hampshire. Upon arrival we are told our US national park pass is no good there, as it is a private venue that runs it.

We found a similar thing at Mt. Rushmore. The parking concession didn't recognize the geezer card, so you have to pay a (then) $10 parking fee. Since the only way to get in there is through the concession folks' gate...
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Dragginourbedaround

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2019, 07:45:31 AM »
We found a similar thing at Mt. Rushmore. The parking concession didn't recognize the geezer card, so you have to pay a (then) $10 parking fee. Since the only way to get in there is through the concession folks' gate...
Cost us $11 at Mt Rushmore. They didn't recognize the Senior Pass at Prince William National Forest Park in Triangle, VA.

If you look at who is on the committee you will find people with an interest in privatizing the National Parks (like a past executive of KOA). I don't think they should be on that committee.
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Gary RV_Wizard

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #23 on: October 13, 2019, 08:41:44 AM »
Quote
We found a similar thing at Mt. Rushmore. The parking concession didn't recognize the geezer card, so you have to pay a (then) $10 parking fee. Since the only way to get in there is through the concession folks' gate...
I was appalled by that when we visited, but subsequent research made me realize I was wrong to be angry.   There is no other place to park the humongous crowds that show up at Rushmore most every day.  That's why you cannot get in without paying the parking garage fee - there aren't other places where you could avoid using the garage and people were jamming the roads with parked cars.     Might be different if you could fold up your F350 and put in your pocket, but until that day...   

A parking garage was the only practical solution to the need for parking but the NPS didn't have the funds to build one, so they contracted it out as a concession. The concessionaire built the garage and got an exclusive contract to operate it at the NPS-approved fee scale until they recovered costs and made some profit.  Now the garage operation contract is bid out like any other federal service and Xanterra holds the contract.  BTW, seniors now get a 50% discount at the Rushmore garage.

The real issue here is lack of funding for all the federal recreation lands.  People quickly get up in arms at the mere mention of losing their senior discount, but where are they when it comes to appropriations for park improvements and operation?
https://www.mtrushmorenationalmemorial.com/parking
« Last Edit: October 13, 2019, 08:44:14 AM by Gary RV_Wizard »
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SeilerBird

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #24 on: October 13, 2019, 08:51:32 AM »
Let's lay the body in the place it belongs, Washington. Someone is cutting NP funding by 14% in 2020. But the wall will be built. So do you want immigrants or senior discounts?
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PancakeBill

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #25 on: October 13, 2019, 09:31:56 AM »
Build the wall.

When talking privatizing in this article, it is really just the campgrounds.  I lived in YNP for 10 years, campgrounds need updating. Privatizing can fix that.  The concessions are under requirements to update, look at what Xanterra agreed to in getting the Yellowstone contract for hotels.  Lots of upgrades, look at Fishing Bridge CG and a 2 year closure to rebuild it.  That would not have happened if it were under NPS.  The NPS funds go for roads and other infrastructure. 

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NY_Dutch

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #26 on: October 13, 2019, 09:47:59 AM »
This country was built by immigrants. I'll take legal immigrants over a non-functional wall any day. 30 foot wall, 32 foot ladder, game over...
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PancakeBill

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #27 on: October 13, 2019, 09:51:55 AM »
Legal is the key word.
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LarsMac

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #28 on: October 13, 2019, 01:57:54 PM »
I can see some privatization working if it is done right. I believe that it should be localized - meaning each park is individually negotiated, giving preference to local Vendor/operators, with some fairly strict rules, and supervised by the NPS. No nationwide contracts to big vendors/operators.

I'd like to see the idea simmer for a while, and maybe wait for an administration change before taking the idea too far. 
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muskoka guy

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Re: Privatize National Parks campgrounds?
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2019, 10:40:32 PM »
A mere 12 billion needed? Maybe give Bill Gates and his buddies a call. A drop in the bucket for them. Its a great way for some mega billionaire to become a national hero.