Park Service forced to find new revenue
This country's national parks, monuments and historic sites are treasures that must be fiercely protected.
Any talk of corporate and other private sponsorships will raise concerns. But there is no reason the park system shouldn't adopt fundraising practices that are commonly used in the nonprofit world — particularly because, given inadequate congressional support, the alternative is deterioration of these precious places.
The National Park Service stirred controversy with its announcement of a revamp of its philanthropy policy. The change would offer temporary naming rights to some park buildings and the addition of company logos to temporary signage, printed materials, exhibits and digital media.
Critics have attacked the plan as creeping commercialization that will lead to Old Faithful being used to sell Viagra, or the Lincoln Memorial being used to promote hemorrhoid cream. While those are exaggerations, there is the risk of sponsors creating conflicts of interest that could detract from the parks.
It is disgraceful that the park system has been so systematically underfunded by Congress that it has been forced to look for new sources of revenue. With yearly appropriations that don't keep pace with inflation and a backlog of needed repairs estimated at $12 billion, there is simply not enough money for the park service to accomplish its goals.
As the National Park Service finalizes its rules, it is important to ensure there are protections against abuses, complete transparency about plans and a process for prudent decision-making and oversight.
The Washington Post