Some fast-moving congressional legislation is aiming to change how the National Park Service does business. The bill would make visitors continue to "pay to play" and also would require Hollywood to cough up some cash before filming scenic park vistas. But critics say private park concessionaires would continue to take the Park Service for a ride.
2020 National Parks Restoration Act," sponsored by Wyoming
Republican Sen. Craig Thomas and approved by the Senate in June,
passed through the House Resources Committee in early August. The
bill "strikes a balance" between the interests of the parks and the
interests of concessions, says Dan Kunsman from Thomas'
But Jerome Uher of the nonprofit National
Parks and Conservation Association criticizes the "sweetheart
contracting practices' between the National Park Service and
private concessionaires. Although the Park Service owns the
buildings and manages land occupied by concessions, he says,
concessionaires are still required to pay only 2.9 percent of their
profit back to the park.
The text of S. 1693 can
be found on the Library of Congress Web page at thomas.loc.gov, but
be forewarned: Senate bills share this address with the Starr
Report. You can also obtain a copy from the Senate Document Room,
Hart Office Building Room B04, Washington DC 20510.