Not So Subtle Privatization?
<- nps photo
.. The impact of budget reductions is continuing to make itself felt in Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone has called for a volunteer force " . . . to help staff the information and security checkpoint in the Heritage and Research Center." In the press release they point out how very important the collections are. In war time it's nice to know that security is left to volunteers.
.. This is just another sign that the NPS can't do their mandated job with the funds provided by congress. The call for volunteers is just a byproduct of the current situation. Park Rangers are being cut from the budget and will have less visitor contact.
Valley Forge National Historic Park has instituted Cell Phone Tours. The official press release, (PDF,) notes that:
". . .Cell phone tours are part of the park’s effort to reach out to recreational users connecting healthy living with national parks as resources for their “daily minimum outdoor recreation requirement.”.. The conspiracy theorists see this as just one more step in the creeping privatization of our parks. Just think of all the phone cards that the concessionaires will be able to sell. Just think of all the consumer suggestions that can be included in the "TELE-TOUR."
.. ". . . and just beyond the new visitor center, (beneath the cell phone tower,) is the Old Faithful Snow Lodge, where you can purchase your new phone card for the tour to Black Sand Basin."
.. ". . . after completing this tour we invite you to stop and shop at one of the many conveniently located trinket stores that we have provided for your National Park experience."
.. ". . . as you look beyond the trail head to the Old Fort Yellowstone, you will see the new gift shop that will provide you with additional phone cards and souvenirs of your stay in the wilderness that is Yellowstone."
.. The few Rangers that are available will have to familiarize themselves with new features of the park.
.. ". . . Yes, sir, the toilet is just beyond that pretty poster advertising phone cards. Yes, the one just beyond the information kiosk. When you're done you might consider taking the cell phone tour of the new and improved parking lot. You'll notice that there are expanded parking spaces for RV's that tow Hummers."
.. This seems silly, at first blush, but it's already happening. Yellowstone National Park has already published a picture that shows the true usefulness of the cell phone. The Upper Geyser Basin "Geyser Reference Photo" shows a visitor waving at the camera with a cell phone to his ear. We'd like to believe that this was just part of the technical check of the equiptment. -- HA!
.. We encourage you to get to Yellowstone soon. The supply of phone cards at the trinket shops is running low.