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I Love microskiff.com!
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this has already happened at Flamingo, but if you love our national parks like I do, let your voice be heard.

There is a new proposal that has been submitted by a committee to the Department of Interior to privatize the National Park Campgrounds to better “meet visitors expectations”. “The committee largely is made up of representatives from the tourism, manufacturing, hospitality and recreation industries”. The proposal if adopted would have private companies manage the campgrounds, adding Wi Fi, food trucks, rental tents, cabins, etc... It would increase campground fees to be competitive with surrounding private campgrounds, and black out senior citizen discounts rates during the campgrounds busy season (in effect pretty much eliminating the senior discount). Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a conservative and capitalist at heart, but this is a very bad proposal. My wife and I have spent the last 5 years traveling around 80,000 miles while visiting National Parks and Monuments. The beauty of the National Park campgrounds is that they are not commercialized and you can unplug and enjoy nature in its natural setting, they totally meet our expectations. One of the committees goals is to increase occupancy, the popular campgrounds are totally booked months in advance so how is privatizing the campgrounds going to increase occupancy rates? Then there is the question should we even be trying to increase occupancy rates? The National Parks are already over crowded (well documented) and experience traffic jams during their peak season, the addition of more cabins, rental tents, food trucks, etc...will only aggravate the problem. The committee is toting this proposal as a way to raise more funds for the National Parks but in my honest opinion it is a shell game by people with special interest looking to profit on the National Parks. There is plenty of business opportunities in the surrounding communities to capitalize on all the tourist that visit our parks. I would much rather see the discussion shift to a possible user fee increase than the commercializing of our public parks. People come from all over the world to visit our National Parks, at times we see more foreign tourist than US citizens, there is no other country that has anything that compares to our National Parks. I am not trying to start a political debate, and hope that it doesn’t go down that road, google proposal to privatize National Park campgrounds and form your own opinion. I am just trying to get the word out to other users of the parks so that they can contact their elected officials and the Department of Interior to let their voices be heard.

National Parks link if you wish to contact them:

https://www.nps.gov/aboutus/contact-form.htm?o=4A96D0B58DC08FB284A85DA8F601&r=/aboutus/contactus.htm
 

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This is bullshit, there has been some press on it out here in the west. Recent administration both dems and reps have not funded our national parks imo
 

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Thanks for the heads up.... the only Park I'm familiar with is Everglades (and I've been working there now for almost 24 years.. the permit I have to buy each year calls us Commercial Users and the permit a CUA...). That I know of, the campground was always part of the concessionaire's package of endeavors. I've always been told that all of the National Parks operate that way with a contracted concessionaire to handle and operate all of the convenience type stuff (motel/hotel, restaurants, guided tours, marinas, boat rentals, and probably lots of other stuff we don't have down at Flamingo...) -anything that someone might make a profit on while providing a service to visitors.

Over the years as the concessionaires changed out (they negotiate a five or ten year contract with Park authorities...) services have ranged from fair to poor or almost non-existent (right after hurricane Wilma when we lost the motel, restaurant, cabins - and darned nearly everything else until it was cleaned up and re-established) - in the case of Flamingo that was only the marina, marina store and that minimum campground area.... that got placed back into service...

The good news about the one Park I'm familiar with is that the current concessionaire is really on the ball and has obviously invested a bit of capital to not only renew, upgrade, and improve the services they provide - they're also bringing new services as well... In fact they're doing head and shoulders better than the Park itself is.... (serious understatement...).

Given that the National Park Service comes under the Interior Department... like every other part of our federal government system - they have to submit budget requests each year or so - and the amount that the Parks get each year is less and less. I can't claim to have the figures and I'm little more than a small bit of the action down at Flamingo but it doesn't surprise me at all that there's a push to privatize this or that... Anyone that thinks the National Park system is functioning well is seeing things that I'm not seeing where I am...

I'll keep watching this with close interest and ask Adam Gelber (Pucker Factor on the web...) about it. For those not aware he's actually in charge of the current Everglades restoration project.... None of this has anything to do with restoring the waters and natural systems in the 'glades but I'd bet he's up to date on most of what's happening down there...
 

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I Love microskiff.com!
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
This is bullshit, there has been some press on it out here in the west. Recent administration both dems and reps have not funded our national parks imo
I was just made aware of it the other day. The committee was formed by the former Interior Secretary before he resigned. The campgrounds that are managed by rangers and campground hosts is a much better experience than when they are managed for profit IMO. I would rather see user fees increased to help offset the funding shortage. They announced that they want to do a “test” at a few parks, you know the small ones like Yosemite, Yellowstone, etc... if that happens it will never be reversed, it will be like going to Disney World if run for profit. We have camped at 37 national parks since 2014-2015, and we need to preserve them for our kids. The only campers I have talked to that are in favor of this are the ones that either cannot unplug from social media, or that have huge campers that will not fit in a lot of the National Park Campgrounds. If you cannot be without WiFI or cell signal for a few days, or you have to be plugged into electricity with a huge RV, there are plenty of campgrounds just outside the gates of the parks that have just what you need. Sorry for the rant, I will get off my soapbox now.
 

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I Love microskiff.com!
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the heads up.... the only Park I'm familiar with is Everglades (and I've been working there now for almost 24 years.. the permit I have to buy each year calls us Commercial Users and the permit a CUA...). That I know of, the campground was always part of the concessionaire's package of endeavors. I've always been told that all of the National Parks operate that way with a contracted concessionaire to handle and operate all of the convenience type stuff (motel/hotel, restaurants, guided tours, marinas, boat rentals, and probably lots of other stuff we don't have down at Flamingo...) -anything that someone might make a profit on while providing a service to visitors.

Over the years as the concessionaires changed out (they negotiate a five or ten year contract with Park authorities...) services have ranged from fair to poor or almost non-existent (right after hurricane Wilma when we lost the motel, restaurant, cabins - and darned nearly everything else until it was cleaned up and re-established) - in the case of Flamingo that was only the marina, marina store and that minimum campground area.... that got placed back into service...

The good news about the one Park I'm familiar with is that the current concessionaire is really on the ball and has obviously invested a bit of capital to not only renew, upgrade, and improve the services they provide - they're also bringing new services as well... In fact they're doing head and shoulders better than the Park itself is.... (serious understatement...).

Given that the National Park Service comes under the Interior Department... like every other part of our federal government system - they have to submit budget requests each year or so - and the amount that the Parks get each year is less and less. I can't claim to have the figures and I'm little more than a small bit of the action down at Flamingo but it doesn't surprise me at all that there's a push to privatize this or that... Anyone that thinks the National Park system is functioning well is seeing things that I'm not seeing where I am...

I'll keep watching this with close interest and ask Adam Gelber (Pucker Factor on the web...) about it. For those not aware he's actually in charge of the current Everglades restoration project.... None of this has anything to do with restoring the waters and natural systems in the 'glades but I'd bet he's up to date on most of what's happening down there...
I have to agree with you that it has worked well in Flamingo, but Flamingo is really pretty unique when it comes to NP campgrounds.
 

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Brandon, FL
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Yellowstone has been private for 70 years or so. 30 or so for Crater Lake.

Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Smokey Mountains, are a couple of the others.

The park service has been acquiring land and placing them in service and to me that is a better use of the money than dealing with employee issues.
 

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Complex topic with pros/cons on both sides. Public companies will extort whoever and whatever they can for a profit but as long as their is an open and routine bidding process for the management business I think privatizing park amenity management can work well. Where this turns decidedly negative for privatization is with sweetheart backroom deals with no accountability like so many deals done with government contractors.
 

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On the subject of National parks, something has to be done about the crowds at popular parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. If I remember right, $35 gets you a private vehicle pass for 7 days and $70 gets you a pass for a year. With over 4 million visitors per year at Yellowstone, they need to jack that up to about $75 per day or $150 per week.
 

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On the subject of National parks, something has to be done about the crowds at popular parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. If I remember right, $35 gets you a private vehicle pass for 7 days and $70 gets you a pass for a year. With over 4 million visitors per year at Yellowstone, they need to jack that up to about $75 per day or $150 per week.
So price out poorer people from national parks? Sorry no. They should charge the amount necessary to keep the park accessible and operational, no more no less. Wait your turn in line if it is crowded.
 

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Fly-By-Night
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On the subject of National parks, something has to be done about the crowds at popular parks like Yellowstone and Yosemite. If I remember right, $35 gets you a private vehicle pass for 7 days and $70 gets you a pass for a year. With over 4 million visitors per year at Yellowstone, they need to jack that up to about $75 per day or $150 per week.
So price out poorer people from national parks? Sorry no. They should charge the amount necessary to keep the park accessible and operational, no more no less. Wait your turn in line if it is crowded.
I agree with limiting people so the parks aren't like ATL at rush hour. I don't agree with doing it by pricing people out. Limit the amount of passes sold to X/per day and have the passes be day specific so people can still have access and not choked with people at the same time.
 

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Tell me what you can do for your whole family for $7 a day. Yellowstone is CRAZY packed to the point of being downright unenjoyable at times. How about this? Raise entrance fees moderately and limit the amount of cars in the park at one time.
 

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Fly-By-Night
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Tell me what you can do for your whole family for $7 a day. Yellowstone is CRAZY packed to the point of being downright unenjoyable at times. How about this? Raise entrance fees moderately and limit the amount of cars in the park at one time.
The parks belong to the people, I think it should be a place anyone can go if they can get there.

I definitely agree with limiting the people allowed in at one time, as long as it isn't done by deterring people via high fees. I also agree $35/vehicle for seven days is crazy cheap and probably a bit low. I think a small increase is probably more in line with the times. The current rate per day is lower than some boat launch fees.
 

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I Love microskiff.com!
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
So price out poorer people from national parks? Sorry no. They should charge the amount necessary to keep the park accessible and operational, no more no less. Wait your turn in line if it is crowded.
I agree 100% that we should not be trying to reduce the amount of people entering the park by raising the entrance fee where poorer people cannot afford to go. Raise the entrance fee based on the monies needed for operating cost. Unfortunately the answer maybe that during peak season they may have to close popular areas to car traffic and provide a trolly or bus to transport the hordes of people. I try very hard to visit the parks on the shoulder season to avoid the crowds. If you go to some of the smaller or less popular parks the crowds are not bad.
 

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Rex Kwan Do Dojo
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I agree 100% that we should not be trying to reduce the amount of people entering the park by raising the entrance fee where poorer people cannot afford to go. Raise the entrance fee based on the monies needed for operating cost. Unfortunately the answer maybe that during peak season they may have to close popular areas to car traffic and provide a trolly or bus to transport the hordes of people. I try very hard to visit the parks on the shoulder season to avoid the crowds. If you go to some of the smaller or less popular parks the crowds are not bad.
Steve, don’t hate me for disagreeing but I disagree 100%. Poor people tend to not take ownership for their actions. Raise the fee much higher and you:

1. Provide crowd control and income.
2. Bring in a set of folks with a different mindset. Ie. People with manners, morals and integrity that are not going to trash the place.

We are not talking about Disney World fees here either.
 
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