Privatization of National Parks

Topics: Yellowstone National Park, National Park Service, National park Pages: 5 (1400 words) Published: August 28, 2011

Vernita Lewis

Regis University


Privatization is the transfer of enterprise ownership in whole or in part from state to private hand. In this scenario the potential privatization of U.S. National Parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton, National Parks is discussed and outcomes of such measures are explored. The U.S. National Parks decided to conduct a study to explore how privatization of various park services such as; rangers and scientific work would fare. The studies were conducted in an effort to create greater efficiency, accountability and cost effectiveness. Opponents of privatization of national parks urged that privatization of national parks would create a greater emphasis being put on the bottom line and not the good of the parks. Opponents chased legislation and collectively attempted to prevent privatization of national parks.

Privatizing National Park Services


The National Parks Service was established in 1916 by President Theodore Roosevelt and Congress through the National Park Service Organic Act. The National Park Service (NPS) is the U.S. federal agency that manages all national parks, many national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations. “The NPS grew out of concerns for preservation of public lands during a time of widespread plundering of Indian ruins, looting of Civil War battlefields and the degradation of historic buildings and sites”, (Scenario). Tremain states that, “Congress gave authority of conserving the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife in the parks and providing for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations (2003)”.

In 2003 there was a 2 year study proposed to find out if privatization could be an effective means of saving the government money. This idea came upon the hells of the national debt increasing. The idea behind privatizing the care of national parks was that private organizations might be able to deliver the same quality of services more efficiently and would result in a 30% annual savings to the national government.

“Privatization, or sometimes referred to as denationalization or disinvestment, is the transfer of ownership from the public sector to the private sector. The term sometimes used to refer to a government subcontracting a service or function to a private team”, (Scenario). Proponents believe that “private market actors can more efficiently deliver services because free market competition will lead to lower costs, improved quality, more choices for those served, less corruption, less red tape and quicker delivery of services” (Scenario). While opponents of privatization believe that certain social programs of government services should be off limits for the free market to “protect them from ruthlessness and unpredictability of the market”, (Scenario).

Several environmentally friendly Third Sector agencies collectively explored the challenges that privatizing the National Parks Service would bring about. The study looked at two national parks in particular; the study looked at Yellowstone National Park and Grand Teton National Park.


U.S. National Parks provide 1,800 people with jobs. The concern or issue that arises is, will those 1,800 people lose their jobs to outsourcing if privatization of the national parks does occur? 123 of those jobs would be from Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks alone.

Another issue that rises out of privatization of national parks is, how will the public be able to hold private organizations accountable for caring for the parks? Currently, the public pays for National Parks Services through tax dollars and appoints those in control to their positions through elections. That power might be lost through privatization.

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