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

That's especially true in today's computer-driven, budget-slashing era, where parks and businesses appear to have become domestic partners. Budget shortfalls have pushed parks to search for "efficiencies"--cheaper, better ways to do their work. Idealistic Ivy League b-school students descend on the backcountry, senators hold hearings on such sexy subjects as trash-can reduction, and consulting firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers help write concession contracts--essentially helping the NPS sell gorp. Programs with jargony names like Competitive Sourcing Review and Core Operations Analysis eat up more and more of park employees' time and energy.

One effort that's received a lot of attention in recent years is the Business Plan Initiative, which sends graduate students out to parks to analyze operations and financial needs. The program grew out of a situation much like the one Grand Teton faces today: It was 1996, and Yellowstone's superintendent decided to close down the park's Norris Campground and a nearby museum to save $70,000. Visitors were incensed, which led Congress to ask Yellowstone to account for the savings--a task that proved difficult for the park, which couldn't articulate its finances in accountant-friendly terms.

In response, the NPCA, in conjunction with the NPS, developed the business-plan program to ensure superintendents had the knowledge and data they needed to be in a position of power in tough budget times. The idea was that writing business plans, in addition to hopefully luring talented business and policy students to join the cause, would help parks save money and make a rational case for increased funding from Congress. If a Harvard MBA proves that you're strapped, maybe it would be harder for a senator to ignore you.

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

Hiking on rocks
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: GoBlueHiker
Finally going Backpacking!
Posted On: Aug 28, 2014
Submitted By: 92hatchattack

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