Corporate sponsors at Yosemite? The case against privatizing national parks

Source: John Freemuth, William Lowry, The Coversation, August 25, 2016

But many reforms are possible without privatizing parks or transferring them to state control. First, NPS could pay greater heed to lessons learned by state parks. The agency has often been somewhat insular and unreceptive to different ideas. State park managers, consistent with the tradition of innovation in a federal system, have tried various approaches to problems that could be useful at the national level. As one example, California developed clear criteria for accepting corporate sponsorships in response to serious budgetary shortfalls a few years ago. The National Park Service currently is considering a similar policy, and weighing California’s approach could help NPS address concerns from park supporters. … Radical proposals for restructuring the NPS are not as popular as advocates may think. In a 2012 Hart Research survey, 88 percent of voters – including 81 percent of Republicans – stated that it was either quite or extremely important for the federal government to protect parks. In 2013 another Hart poll of western voters – who might be expected to favor the idea of restructuring parks – found that 65 percent supported permanent protection for wilderness, parks and open spaces. …


Settlement talks collapse in Yosemite National Park trademark clash
Source: Michael Doyle, Miami Herald, August 22, 2016

Efforts to settle the dispute between the federal government and Yosemite National Park’s former concessions company over trademarks have stalled, foreshadowing a potentially costly and time-consuming court battle. The failure of mediation efforts between Justice Department attorneys and their DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite was laid out in a court filing last week in which the two sides resumed combative trial preparations. … Delaware North, Yosemite’s primary concessionaire from 1993 until a new firm took over the lucrative contract on March 1, is suing the federal government over the handling of the Yosemite-affiliated names for which the concession company obtained trademarks. The substantive differences include the validity, dollar value and future of the trademarks Delaware North secured for such locations as Wawona, Curry Village and the famed Ahwahnee hotel. The company’s still-secret appraisal pegs the value of the trademarks at $44 million, while the park service values the names at only $1.6 million. … The government also wants to allow the current Yosemite concessionaire, a subsidiary of Philadelphia-based Aramark, to join the lawsuit as a third party. Delaware North opposes this move. Ultimately, the Justice Department argues, it could be the Aramark firm that’s liable for paying for any trademarks. …

Source: Sara Sandrik, ABC30, March 1, 2016

A new company is in charge of all concessions inside Yosemite and five iconic buildings have new names because of an ongoing trademark dispute. A major transition started just after midnight but many are still hoping the new names are only temporary. … The transition included 8,500 new uniform pieces featuring the Yosemite hospitality logo and different merchandise in the gift stores. But the most noticeable changes involved new names and new signs for five iconic buildings. At the Awahnee alone everything from shuttle stops to floor mats to this historic landmark monument has been covered up or replaced. … The park service also filed a petition on Friday with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the trademark Delaware owns since the company is no longer associated with Yosemite as of Tuesday. But it’s unknown if and when the agency could make a decision.

National Park Advocates Appalled by Yosemite Name Changes
Source: Brian Clark Howard, National Geographic, January 15, 2016

A decision by the National Park Service to rename iconic commercial sites within Yosemite National Park in the midst of a contract dispute has left park advocates shocked and disappointed. The historic Ahwahnee hotel, Yosemite Lodge, Wawona Hotel, Curry Village, and Badger Pass ski area will be renamed by March 1, when the park changes over to a new concessioner. … The National Park Service is locked in a legal fight with DNC Parks & Resorts at Yosemite, Inc., the concessionaire at the park that has operated its hotels, trail rides, bus service, and more since 1993. DNC—part of Buffalo-based Delaware North, which operates facilities in other parks and venues around the world—lost its lucrative contract. The new 15-year, $2 billion contract was granted to a subsidiary of Aramark instead. …