The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Yetta Stein, Communications Associate

Western Values Project

(406) 529-1682

National Parks Privatization Threat Remains Despite Outcry

Dangerous Parks Privatization Plan Still Under Consideration Even After Industry-Laden Committee Disbanded

Whitefish, MT.

The contentious proposal to begin privatizing America's national parks is still "under review," according to the Acting Director of the National Parks Service (NPS) David Vela, despite widespread public outcry and recent news that the Trump administration was dissolving the industry-laden "Made in America" committee that originally proposed the horrific privatization plan.

"The Trump administration, urged by Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, is trying to pull the wool over national park users' eyes," said Jayson O'Neill, Deputy Director of Western Values Project. "While the industry-laden committee has been scrapped, their disastrous proposal to monetize, commercialize and privatize remains a clear and present threat to America's national parks. The Trump administration clearly won't stop until our outdoor heritage has been co-opted and sold off."

In a recent editorial opinion, the Las Vegas Sun highlighted that the main goal of the "Made in America" committee was to open the door to the private sector's control of America's national parks. Particularly egregious within the proposal is the push to 'blackout' senior citizens and other discount parks pass users during peak weekends. The Sun calls the proposal:

"...the wrong approach. The real answer is to again start treating the parks as the national treasures they are, and publicly fund them accordingly so that the park experience will be better for all visitors."

NPS Acting Director Vela has been mostly silent about the privatization proposal, offering no specific reason for the decision to disband the committee -- but recently announced that the proposal was still "under review." Vela also recently issued a controversial memo in an attempt to silence park supervisors' concerns about development near park boundaries. He has a history of repeatedly failing to follow procedures that would increase public awareness and input into national park policies.

O'Neill continued, "This isn't the first time and it, unfortunately, won't be the last time the Trump administration pushes to put industry special interest demands ahead of America's public lands and parks."

The Sun editorial concluded that the proposal should be shelved and echoed this sentiment:

"Unfortunately, this is just another example of the Trump administration's fundamental failure to understand that our public lands and resources are held in trust today for our children, their children and down the line."

The Sun editorial follows a Los Angeles Times editorial that labeled the proposal a 'horrific idea,' slamming the justification saying it was 'insulting to younger people to suggest they won't be interested in an outdoor experience without all the luxuries and conveniences of home.'

Western Values Project brings accountability to the national conversation about Western public lands and national parks conservation - a space too often dominated by industry lobbyists and their allies in government.