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Corporatizing campgrounds

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Rockies Today

November 6 · Issue #30 · View online
The big stories up and down the Rocky Mountains, curated by Mountain West News

Corporatizing campgrounds
Last month, a committee that reports to the National Park Service recommended privatizing campgrounds within national parks. As Louis Sahagun of the Los Angeles Times reports, the proposals face fierce pushback. “But what really angers opponents is how corporate donors and businesses with a vested interest in park privatization have been invited by the Trump administration to offer proposals for further concession opportunities.”
Trump team has a plan for national parks: Amazon, food trucks and no senior discounts Trump team has a plan for national parks: Amazon, food trucks and no senior discounts
At the urging of a controversial team of advisors, the Trump administration is mulling proposals to privatize national park campgrounds and further commercialize the parks with expanded Wi-Fi service, food trucks and even Amazon deliveries at tourist camp sites.
Leaders of the Interior Department’s “Made in America” Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee say these changes could make America’s national parks more attractive to a digitally minded younger generation and improve the quality of National Park Service facilities amid a huge maintenance backlog. As part of its plan, the committee calls for blacking out senior discounts at park campgrounds during peak holiday seasons.
“Our recommendations would allow people to opt for additional costs if they want, for example, Amazon deliveries at a particular campsite,” said Derrick Crandall, vice chairman of the committee and a counselor with the nonprofit National Park Hospitality Assn. “We want to let Americans make their own decisions in the marketplace.”
But the group’s proposals face angry opposition from conservation organizations and senior citizen advocates, who call them a transfer of public assets to private industry, including businesses led by executives appointed to the Outdoor Advisory Committee.
“America’s outdoor heritage is on the line,” said Jayson O’Neill, deputy director of the Western Values Project, a nonprofit public lands watchdog group in Montana. “The trouble with these recommendations is that they were written by concessionaire industry representatives vying for more control of national parks.”
The proposal to restrict the use of senior discounts drew a sharp response from Bill Sweeney, senior vice president of government affairs at AARP.
“This proposal is an insulting attempt to push older Americans out of our national parks,” he said. “The cost of a senior pass already jumped in recent years from $10 to $80, and this proposal would further hurt older Americans who want to visit national parks. Enough is enough.”
More goings on related to public lands:
Interior pick focuses on law, climate science ‘uncertainty’
BLM staffers face looming deadline to relocate or quit
Lawsuit planned after giant forest project OK'd in Idaho
Survey finds growth, access and habitat loss are Montanans biggest public lands concerns
Down on the farm
For farmers in a mental health crisis, it’s often tough to seek help. A Colorado program aims to begin conversations. For farmers in a mental health crisis, it’s often tough to seek help. A Colorado program aims to begin conversations.
More on mental health in rural communities:
Why it’s hard to help children through mental health challenges in rural communities
And more ag news:
Hemp: The new cash crop?
Editorial board: Wyoming should move quickly to let farmers begin hemp production
Glyphosate debate
The farmworkers who pick your food don’t get paid overtime
Trade wars, climate change plunge the family farm into crisis. Is it an endangered American institution?
Indigenous communities receive unequal recovery aid
As part of a series about the insufficient protections for vulnerable people as natural disasters worsen in a warming climate, High Country News reports on how tribes have received unequal recovery aid when hit by disasters such as wildfires and floods.
When disaster strikes, Indigenous communities receive unequal recovery aid When disaster strikes, Indigenous communities receive unequal recovery aid
In the last decade, more than 70 natural disasters have occurred on tribal lands, with some communities being hit more than once a year. According to an analysis from the Center for Public Integrity, tribal nations were on average more vulnerable than the U.S. overall during the same period, based on measures such as unemployment and income. Yet, in the span of one year, they receive less than half of what the Department of Homeland Security grants states for recovery efforts daily. Data from the National Congress of American Indians show that U.S. citizens receive, on average, about $26 per person, per year, from the federal government, while tribal citizens receive approximately $3 per person, per year.
“There are huge gaps in the way the federal government responds to tribes when a natural disaster occurs,” said Nelson Andrews Jr., emergency management director for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. 
More from Indian Country:
After Navajo win back political power in a Utah county, a battle breaks out
Majority opposed to exploring change in San Juan County government, according to early vote count
Officials look to close law enforcement loophole on the Wind River Reservation
The U.S. has spent more money erasing Native languages than saving them
What else we're reading today
Warming climate shrinks snow pack
Biologist: Only hibernation abating black bear conflicts
Wyoming lawmakers toy with overhauling utility commission to buoy coal
North Dakota Supreme Court hears parks group's challenge to Davis Refinery permit
Colorado's 2019 election results: 5 takeaways from Prop CC, DD and other state races
Rockies Today is edited by Matthew Frank, Fellow in Regional Journalism at the O’Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana.
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O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West, University of Montana, Missoula, Montana, 59812