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Corporate logos might start popping up in national parks across the US but don’t freak out

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Corporate logos might start popping up in national parks across the US but don’t freak out

WATCH:  The National Park Service is celebrating its centennial this year. And also this year, for the first time ever, you might start seeing corporations' logos displayed throughout the national park system. 

Advertising or an acknowledgement?

In March, NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis proposed an update to a director's order, set to take effect by the end of this year, suggesting changes to the way the 411 national parks, monuments and conservation areas recognize the corporations that donate to them.

The parks services are currently reviewing public feedback before making the final call. 

We need to be state-of-the-art and sophisticated about how we engage with donors and corporate America.
Jonathan Jarvis, NPS Director

Jarvis said in an interview with The Huffington Post that it was time for an update to their policies for philanthropic donations. 

We don't give naming rights to anyone. That would imply that they would get the authority to put their name on things, which isn't the case.
Jeremy Barnum, NPS Spokesperson

The order details what corporations could receive in return for donating. If approved, corporations will be able to display their logos along with their donor credit. All logos will be vetted. 

'Tasteful' and 'temporary'

The logos will be displayed in a "tasteful" and "temporary" manner, according to NPS spokesman Jeremy Barnum.

Printed materials, meeting rooms and educational programs are examples of what could have corporate logos attached to them.

Donors will continue to be able to design, build, and operate concession buildings like hotels and food stands, and park superintendents will be able to accept larger donations after finishing a training program. 

POL20160823 NATIONAL PARKS SERVICE CORPORATE FUNDING_V3.00_01_27_24.Still002.png

Corporate donations are not new to the NPS -- Grand Canyon National Park was originally founded with support from transcontinental railroad companies. In fact, the parks rely heavily on philanthropic donations. 

Naming of parks or features and donor recognition that implies endorsement of a business or brand [violated law and policy].
Jarvis, to The Huffington Post

Are we going to soon see the Grand Canyon sponsored by Verizon? Under the current plan, no.

The actual names of the national parks or any NPS facility, including visitor centers and historic structures, are prohibited from being changed.

You could use Old Faithful to pitch Viagra.
Jeff Ruch

However, those in opposition to the private-public funding concept are concerned about potential future demands of corporations that have donated, and the tarnishing of national treasures with brand names. 

Criticism from Coca-Cola

In 2011, Jarvis temporarily suspended a ban on the sales of water bottles at the Grand Canyon. The NPS proposed a ban on the sales of bottled water to save on recycling expenses, a decision that received criticism, including from Coca-Cola, a major donor to the NPS. 

Despite these concerns, funding from corporations have helped fund major maintenance projects. At Yellowstone National Park, Toyota and ConocoPhillips donations helped fund native fishery restoration, overlook and trail reconstruction, and even a program to reintroduce wolves.


Roots of the Oregon standoff

It's important to distinguish that national parks are not being privatized, though it is a topic up for debate.

There is a separate conversation surrounding privatizing the 640 million acres (28 percent of the United States) owned by the federal government.

Remember the standoff in Oregon with the Bundy family? That was all about the battle between cattle ranchers and the obstacles that come with leasing land from the various federal agencies that own it.

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