While many were celebrating with their families and enjoying festivities this weekend, an op-ed was published in the New York Times that made the case that the nation need not make any new parks. His reason: we cannot maintain the parks we have now.
Throughout the national park system, an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance is eroding the visitor experience and threatening the very resources that the National Park Service was created to protect. Earlier this year, the park service announced that the cost of deferred maintenance had reached $11.5 billion.
It appears that, in order to address this growing problem, the Koch brothers are interested in privatizing the park systems. The author and co-author of the Times op-ed piece both work for the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC). PERC is an organization interested in “property rights and environmental organization” and funded by none other than the Kochs.
Addicting Info describes PERC like this:
PERC is a big advocate for the privatization of our public lands and for opening them up to private use. Like drilling. Well, since they have ties to the fossil fuel industry, that’s not a big surprise.
PERC’s efforts to encourage the privatization of public lands have been discredited before. One such study by PERC that found that privatization was a way to protect parks was discredited by the Center for Western Priorities (CWP).
According to the CWP, the study had:
… glaring flaws would suggest that suggest the authors designed a study to specifically support the organization’s ideology, which prioritizes extractive industries, reduces public access through privatization, and ignores the benefits of balanced land management.
Despite being a deeply flawed idea, the notion of privatizing our national parks is just outright offensive. No private industry, business, or gatekeeper should determine who has access to public lands, lands intended for the use of the public.