Saturday, August 26, 2006




.. The message delivered by Secretary Kempthorne yesterday in Yellowstone was wondrous to behold. It was insubstantial, convoluted, chatty, and quick.
.. The main points:
1)-Parks have accomplished much in the past,
2)-Parks can do more with less,
3)-Wait ten years to see how it's done,
4)-I won't be around then,
5)-My boss told me to say this.
6)-I hope this makes the news!
.. This sounds like a new reading of the law of diminishing returns. It reminds us of the perpetual graduate student who was so good at going to school that he continued his specialized studies until he died. Through his years at the university he continued to learn more and more about less and less. On his deathbed he finally knew everything about nothing.
.. The Bush Administration is demonstrating this principle by continuing to cut the NPS budget and by requiring that more be done with less.
.. The ultimate goal, of course, is to do everything with nothing. The insidious aspect of this is the certain knowledge that Americans love their parks and will help however they can.
.. Significant donations of private funds helped to build the new visitor center at Canyon - the Heritage Center at Gardiner, and the currently 'under construction' visitor center at Old Faithful. Of course maintenance is another issue; Yellowstone had to cut programs to pay the light bill at the Heritage center.
.. This privatization of monumental architecture is just the start of the creeping privatization of the whole system. Concessionaire tours for the rich are well established. Ads are beginning on government web pages, and even your national parks pass belongs to Ford & Casio. "Tasteful" donor plaques are making their appearance. The trend is apparent, and this is bigger than a camel's nose!
.. In time, the Bush goals will be reached - we will have allowed the NPS to do it all with nothing - except for private funds.
.. This creeping privatization is beginning to gallop. The folks at Wild Wilderness are keeping track of it for us. All the rationalizations in the world will not allow us to escape the fact that we have started to give away the responsibility of NPS functions to the private sector. Of course, this means giving away the authority to manage as well.