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Can National Park Naming Rights Help Solve Deferred Maintenance Crisis?




Lost in the celebration of a century’s worth of birthdays for the national park system was an $11 billion deferred maintenance bill for projects across the country — a list of projects so long at the 411 national parks that catching up appears impossible.

But according to a Washington Post article, the park system is considering going corporate — as in accepting corporate donations that could lead to the presence of company logos in park areas and items and in turn financially boost the park system’s efforts for maintenance repairs.

Is a family trip to Mount Rushmore Sponsored by Mountain Dew in the family plans any time soon? The Post article indicates the park system is lightly treading the line between selling spaces to the highest bidder and philanthropic intentions.

“It gives us new opportunities and tools,” to respond to donors who perceive the government as too slow to get deals done,” Jeff Reinbold, the Park Service’s associate director for partnerships and civic engagement, tells the Post.

The expanded rules for philanthropy were proposed in March and are set to take effect by the end of the year. According to the rules, the Park Service won’t recognize donors with advertising or marketing slogans, but company logos will get displays. Companies also can earmark gifts for recurring park expenses, which was not allowed previously.

Corporate funds are already benefiting national parks in ways that would never occur without the influx of money. For example, corporate money at Yellowstone National Park supports the restoration of native fisheries, reconstructed trails and overlooks, wildlife health and the reintroduction of wolves.

This quick read was submitted by Dave Lubach, associate editor for Facility Maintenance Decisions. Reach him at dave.lubach@tradepress.com. For more on deferred maintenance issues, click here.

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