2 Free Issues and 3 Free Gifts!
Full Name:
Address 1:
Address 2:
Zip Code:
Email: (required)
If I like it and decide to continue, I'll pay just $12.00, and receive a full one-year subscription (9 issues in all), a 73% savings off the newsstand price! If for any reason I decide not to continue, I'll write "cancel" on the invoice and owe nothing.
Your subscription includes 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Or click here to pay now and get 2 extra issues
Offer valid in US only.

Also on

Enter Zip Code

Backpacker Magazine – November/December 2005

National Parks Inc.

Like it or not, national parks are officially in the business of business. Will this focus destroy the soul of a national institution--or save it in these lean times?

by: Eryn Brown

Critics of the influx of businesspeople into the parks focus on the potential for future havoc. They say outsourcing isn't as simple as it looks, because park service employees often wear many hats. "When I was the superintendent at Grand Canyon, we had a historic cabin catch on fire," says Rob Arnberger, who retired as NPS regional director for Alaska in 2003. "The alarm went off all through the park. Everyone responded to that fire. The guy in charge was a second-level ranger. The man on the hose was the assistant chief of interpretation. The three people behind were maintenance workers. The guy bringing up the rear was our computer specialist. I don't care how you dissect this, there is no outside company that can provide workers who'll do all that."

Observers also make noise about the high cost of business analysis. According to Rick Smith of the Coalition of National Park Retirees, NPS sources say the agency spends $3,000 per position defending itself in comparative sourcing reviews--money that could otherwise go toward filling empty jobs, supporting interpretive programs, or saving grizzlies. "They're sacrificing effectiveness on the altar of efficiency," says Smith.

Smith also worries that superintendents who are urged to pursue private-sector fundraising will be tempted to make decisions based on profit instead of what's best for the parks. "If your job performance is based on how much money you bring in, you're going to encourage the guys with the RVs to come in," he says.

Subscribe to Backpacker magazine
Sign up for our free weekly e-newsletter
Address 1:
Address 2:
Email (req):
Reader Rating: -


Your rating:
Your Name:


My Profile Join Now

Most recent threads

What Should I Do About A Table And Chairs?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer
Trailhead Register
Who's Working this weekend...?
Posted On: Aug 30, 2014
Submitted By: hikerjer

View all Gear
Find a retailer

Special sections - Expert handbooks for key trails, techniques and gear

Check out Montana in Warren Miller's Ticket to Ride
Warren Miller athletes charge hard and reflect on Big Sky country, their love for this space and the immense energy allotted to the people who reside in Montana.

Boost Your Apps
Add powerful tools and exclusive maps to your BACKPACKER apps through our partnership with Trimble Outdoors.

Carry the Best Maps
With BACKPACKER PRO Maps, get life-list destinations and local trips on adventure-ready waterproof myTopo paper.

FREE Rocky Mountain Trip Planner
Sign up for a free Rocky Mountain National Park trip planning kit from our sister site

Follow BackpackerMag on Twitter Follow Backpacker on Facebook
Get 2 FREE Trial Issues and 3 FREE GIFTS
Survival Skills 101 • Eat Better
The Best Trails in America
YES! Please send me my FREE trial issues of Backpacker
and my 3 FREE downloadable booklets.
Full Name:
Address 1:
Zip Code:
Address 2:
Email (required):
Free trial offer valid for US subscribers only. Canadian subscriptions | International subscriptions