Corporate Sponsorship for Parks?

Article excerpt

Experience the wonders of the Grand Canyon, brought to you by Tidy Bowl Cleaner. Marvel at Mount Rushmore, the face of history sponsored by Clearasil.

Environmentalists worry that similar scenes of crass commercialization could proliferate if Congress passes a bill to permit individual corporations, for a contribution of $10 million each, to become "official sponsors" of the national park system. Some of their concerns are valid - and can easily be addressed in the legislation without dismissing the idea of corporate sponsorship.

Everyone knows that the national park system is in desperate condition and that Congress can't appropriate all the money the parks need, especially to clear up the maintenance backlog.

Despite Congress' budget-cutting mood, the National Park Service did get an increase in its budget this year, to $1.8 billion, but the additional money is insufficient to make much of a dent in the $4 billion required for repairs, restorations and restarting canceled programs or services.

Eventually Congress will have to resolve the parks' crisis. A more systematic solution would entail raising entrance and concession fees and introducing competitive bidding. …