A new proposal by the Trump administration to privatize national park campgrounds is reportedly under consideration. The proposal could allow private firms to run aspects of the nation’s campgrounds and could lead to Amazon deliveries at campsites within the parks (for an extra fee), bringing food trucks to popular parks and eliminating senior discounts during peak holiday seasons.
These ideas, issued by the Interior Department’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee are thankfully, for now, just recommendations. The controversial set of recommendations casts campers as consumers with changing expectations and outlines a new model to pump more revenue out of popular parks and public lands across the US reports USA Today. The committee proposes modernizing offerings — making the outdoors more appealing to cellphone-toting teens — and offering the private sector a bigger role.
“Overall capacity has not kept up with growth and changes in camping demands and the infrastructure that does exist, with few exceptions, fails to meet expectations of the contemporary camping market,” the group wrote in a memo sent to Secretary of the Interior, David Bernhardt, after a meeting held in October.
The group is claiming campgrounds are an “underperforming asset” and have advised the Department of Interior that expanding amenities like Wi-Fi and equipment rentals, furnished by the private sector, could improve and maximize park service sites. Another proposal put forward suggests new “high-quality contemporary campgrounds,” with food trucks, mobile camp stores, Amazon deliveries, and other “innovative solutions in campground modernization and maintenance”. Of course, all this would come with a new set of baseline fees based on market pricing to pay for it all.
Conservation organizations and senior citizen advocacy groups are vehemently opposing the proposed changes. National Park Service funding has steadily been cut since the current administration took office.