Idaho state parks look for corporate sponsors to ease budget woes

State parks explore deal with The North Face, other companies, to ease budget crunch

You’ve probably seen it at a public school near you; Coca Cola score boards, exclusive to Pepsi product vending machines in the hallways between class.  Now, Idaho managers are seeking to find ways to commercialize state parks in an effort to raise dollars while lawmakers are cutting budgets:

State parks explore deal with The North Face, other companies, to ease budget crunchIdaho Business Review

This trail brought to you by The North Face? This playground courtesy of Juicy Juice? Corporate logos adorning state park signs and maps, and on ranger uniforms?

The debate over whether or not to in essence lease public spaces to private commercial parties is surely a difficult one.  The dollars raised keep public employees in their jobs, tending to the maintenance work that our cherished places deserve.

On the other hand, just as it is with public schools forced to turn public spaces into advertising markets the budget shortfalls used to justify commercialization are indicative of a problem.

Public parks are valuable because they offer a respite from the bombardment of commercial society.  Corporate logos on park ranger uniforms are an affront to the very idea of public.  Politicians who cut budgets to public agencies (usually while maintaining or increasing tax-benefits or direct subsidies to their private-interest cronies) are literally selling out our shared public spaces.



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  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    This is happening in every state. When we were in Arizona March and April, it cost from $21 to $26 at a state park for a place without hookups. We don’t have a big RV and don’t need hookups anyway.

    I learned that the state parks were actually being used to not only generate money for very minimal staffing, the fees were being skimmed to pay for unrelated state programs.

    This is just another way the long recession (which I think is being deliberately kept in place) is being used to accomplish anti-conservation and anti-public objectives.

    1. jdubya Avatar

      Deliberately kept in place? How so? If anything we are in the middle of a sea change of renting instead of buying, and of less consumption via the use of credit cards and refi debt. We have been a society whose health of the economy has been kept in place by leveraging our debt for instant gratification. I think we are seeing that change.

  2. JimT Avatar

    With regards to the recession, I am wondering if folks like Ludlum with the international banking conspiracy novels were not ahead of their time because it sure looks like an oligarchy to me right now..democracy is a thin disguise for what is going on right now politically.

    I agree..the bad economy is just an excuse for the conservatives to get their social and economic agendas implemented for as long as they can before people wake up and realize how badly they have been snookered.

  3. Alan Avatar

    On the one hand, in todays world, you think that $21.00-$26.00 for a camp site isn’t really that much. Yes, I can remember when I could get a motel room for about that (and a camp site would be 3-7 dollars), but that same motel room today would cost 70-100 bucks. Maybe it isn’t too much for a destination site, such as a lake or base camp where you are going to spend several days exploring; but if you are just looking for a place to park your vehicle for the night, it’s rediculous. When on the road I used to always seek out state parks to stop and have lunch (a small day use fee of a couple of bucks didn’t bother me) or to spend the night (I generally just sleep in the back of my SUV). But I’ll be darned if I’m going to spend 21-26 bucks just to park for 7-8 hours. Now I find either a Wal-Mart or a “wonder road” somewhere; or maybe a rest area if legal in the state I’m in. All of which raises the question of whether state parks aren’t actually costing themselves revenue by charging so much? Case in point: I was over in Washington State tooling around recently and stopped at a state park for lunch. The gal at the gate said it would cost x number of dollars (don’t remember exactly now). It was a beautiful spot along a river and I didn’t mind spending a FEW bucks, but thought it was too high for the thirty or forty minutes I would be there. She told me that if I continued down the road another half mile there was a free rest area that wasn’t on the river, but overlooked it. No brainer.
    I agree with Brian that corporate logos on ranger uniforms would be an affront. Small logos on signs or restrooms or trash containers saying, “This sign courtesy of Pepsi Cola” etc. might be OK, but not, “This trail brought to you by…” It’s public land and a public park. I guess I wouldn’t have a problem with a, “Nacho Cheese Doritos” pit though.

  4. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    This is all part of an agenda to “privatize” all of our public property and assets. Prisons, public schools, national parks, and federal and state public lands along with the military are all slated to be taken over by large corporations.

    Both political parties are pushing this agenda. The republicans come up with some far out scheme and the democrats pretend to offer an alternative by compromising
    and only giving the republicans half of what they asked for.

  5. Alan Gregory Avatar

    This has been explored in a couple of Eastern states, as well. My reaction: Society spends zillions every day to pave over nature and then repair those same highways/roads. How about parking the graders/dozers/front-end loaders/dump trucks/etc. and spend even a fraction of that money to run state parks and acquire the land for new ones.

  6. Linda Jo Hunter Avatar

    I thought I might have something to say about this but the more I think about it the madder I get. I am speechless mad about this.

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Brian Ertz