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Utah Legislature: Lawmakers explore idea of privatizing state parks

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  • frustrated
    Feb. 20, 2010 9:43 a.m.

    park fees pay for much of the upkeep of parks. There are systems out there that are funded by levees and admission is free to the public. Part of parks mission is to educate the public on the natural wonders around them. Privatizing parks would put important decisions in the hands of one person. That person may have an agenda. They wouldn't be held accountable. I agree - we'd look like disney land with our boat tours and mini golf and gift shops galore. Theres a delicate balance between offering public recreational opportunities and overdeveloping pristine areas. The public scoffs at rules that keep atv's out of certain parks or limits hunting of large game, but these rules are there to protect the resources we all enjoy. Let those who are trained to make resource management decisions for the good of the RESOURCE run the show, and keep parks as part of the State. Parks aren't out there to make a profit. They are out there to preserve the resource and educate the public.

  • park user
    Feb. 19, 2010 6:57 p.m.

    We privatized This Is The Place State Park, it receives $800,000 annually from the DNR budget. If this is the idea behind "privitization", please privitize all of our state parks, maybe they'll be sufficently staffed, funded and maintained.
    Turn our state parks over to the local communities they support, use local resources to maintain, staff & operate our parks. Leave them open and public, get the state and the legislature out of the park business.
    It seems there is more bureaucracy then funds in our parks thes days.

  • David
    Feb. 16, 2010 9:54 p.m.

    As a senior, using the $35 State Parks discount pass, I would seriously plead with the legislature: "Please do not do away with this senior's perk as it is greatly appreciated & utilized for summer family camping & winter ice fishing @ Jordanell, Rockport & Deer Creek Parks."

  • Jim
    Feb. 16, 2010 9:42 p.m.

    Again the State Legislature is looking at the short term view. Right now we are in a tight financial spot but that will pass. It took us 60 or so years of real mismanagement ( personal, business and government to get us in this financial "fix". It'll take a number years to dig our way out. Do not sacrifice the "peoples places" to the alter of the profesional money grubbers. We'll get far less and pay much more for what we ahve already paid for. My generation ( and generations before) gifted to the public our "peoples places". Now just because we are in a temporary slump do to the mismanagement of our monetary assetspleasae donot throw out the baby with the bathwater. Our loyal career parks employees work for a whole lot better reason than money ... they love their opportunity to serve the natural best needs of both our environment and our citizens. They are are career ( rather than part time) faithful protectors of our communal public interests. When they go away so goes the pleasures of the Park Systems. A much more natural setting would make them both more efficient and proud of their responsibilities

  • Count me in!
    Feb. 16, 2010 1:55 p.m.

    I got dibs on the Bunjie Jump concession at Dead Horse Point!

    Video Arcades! Souvenier shops! Multiplex theatres!

    Yee-haw!

    I jus' loves me some privatazation of public parks!

  • best of both worlds
    Feb. 16, 2010 7:42 a.m.

    privatization with gov oversight isn't a bad idea. if a company or trust can maintain the lands better than the cash-strapped government programs, they should be given the opportunity to do so. If they don't do a good job, then the gov should have the option of taking the land back.

  • Robert
    Feb. 16, 2010 7:05 a.m.

    Do not privatize the parks. This allows wealthy land grabbers to take more of the land that belongs to us as citizens.

  • oldman
    Feb. 16, 2010 4:16 a.m.

    Ya - like we privatized health care ya sure. Get business into everything. One thing about politicians they love corporations and donations.

  • libertarian64
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:01 p.m.

    Let's get government out of our lives. Privatize state parks? Sure, do it. And while were at it let's get government out of the liquor sales/distribution business. Oh, and while we're at it get government out of family and kinship... Marriage equality and choice for all! Ain't freedom in Utah great!!!

  • Privatization of state parks...
    Feb. 15, 2010 5:29 p.m.

    ...isn't it about, time?

  • nice idea
    Feb. 15, 2010 4:58 p.m.

    then we can turn even more of Utah into strip malls, parking lots and pseudo mcmansion developments with no green spaces. Let's keep government out of our lives!

  • Free Market Proponents?
    Feb. 15, 2010 4:16 p.m.

    If the legislature likes privatization so much, why not privatize the state liquor stores?

  • No, no, no!
    Feb. 15, 2010 3:39 p.m.

    We pay taxes to pay for these parks. The Park Service, BLM and Forest Service all spend too much money catering to big money RV'ers who want paved trails, Internet hook up and handicapped access to everything. I noticed year after year, these money strapped government entities spend hundreds of thousands barricading us out of the park just to charge us to get in. They put up expensive fee booths and hire someone to take our money because someone likes to park on pavement. Our parks need to be pristine and available to all. We can't even have a picnic in the mountains anymore without paying someone a fee to say we can picnic. NO PRIVATIZING and NO FEES!

  • No salary--
    Feb. 15, 2010 1:57 p.m.

    How about the Legislature not take health benefits from the state???
    How about the Legislature be a citizen legislature and not accept or receive pay??
    How about we look at the pay of managers in state government??
    How about we look at the number of managers in each department????
    Perhaps we should look within before we roll the dice with our kids and our safety.
    Why is it everytime there is a shortfall the ROADS, THE POLICE, THE TEACHERS AND MORE IMPORTANTLY THE KIDS are the first targets?? Are the legislators attempting to hit us where it hurts to make a point and make us scream "raise taxes"?
    We need to fix the problem and not create a greater problem for the future.

  • Little Jimmy Brady
    Feb. 15, 2010 12:32 p.m.

    Why not just STOP all State aid to Illegals....WAKE UP PEOPLE this is the real problem that is causing all these money woes!!!

  • Too Dumb....
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:47 a.m.

    The idea of privatizing state parks is too dumb for even our legislators to consider, and they spend a lot of time on some pretty dumb ideas.

    We won't have a state park system if the parks have to generate enough revenue to sustain themselves and make somebody a profit. It's just nuts.

    Entrance fees will climb to where Joe Average can't and/or won't affod them. And that doesn't even consider the value of the land on which the parks sit (see below).

    We have struck a wonderful, delicate balance right now by putting a relatively modest amount towards high-quality state parks that should be the envy of all other states. Also, many parks have a "private" compenent, with consessionaires who operate businesses and generate income there.

    But, most State Park land was acquired with federal money with restrictions that won't allow full privatization anyway, unless somebody pays for property--and then no one but the super-rich can play there.

    Yes, look "outside the box!" But, remember one of John Wayne's mottos: "Life is hard, it's harder if you're stupid."

  • Cedarite
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:38 a.m.

    If the legislature gets their way, the state parks will all be filled with or ringed with luxury view homes and golf courses. One only has to visit Snow Canyon to get a glimpse of what the future they envision for the parks will look like... big bloated homes visible from many viewpoints, big bloated homes right next to trails, and advertising on the developer's websites that the park is the home buyers' "back yard". From the developer's website:
    "The Ledges' grand backdrop is Snow Canyon State Park where rugged rocks of red and white sandstone stretch high above the desert floor, painting the ideal canvas for this exquisitely designed residential and golf community."

  • russrobinson
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:21 a.m.

    There is a solution. We need to get the facts and move forward. We are rapidly approaching the point where all entitlement programs regardless of scope or size will be evaluated for viability. If, in the end, parks must be privatized we would be wise to control who can own them. Care should be taken to ensure that US citizens own this land. It is possible with hard work, communication and creative thinking we can find a solution that is viable for all. The solution may indeed be a hybrid approach where some parks are privatized while others are not. What we need more of is critical thinking and real analysis and less emotional responses from all factions. Bottom line. We need to be prepared to pay for the things we want including using state parks.

  • Atlas
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:17 a.m.

    Agree -- let the free market decide. Get the government out of our lives. Privatize.

    I have more confidence in a clean and affordable park than a tzx & spend bureaucrat spending millions to neuter "the" out of Smokey the Bear.

  • Use the free market
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:13 a.m.

    Why not use the free market? You could use a e-bay like system were people bid on campsites. This way if you have the money you can get that campsite on the forth. This would work for hunting too. Bed on tags and use the idea touted by conservative for insurance, let people bid across state lines for elk tags. There shouldn't be an affirmative action program based on geography. If a hunter from LA and bid higher than a hunter from Blanding, the market rules.

  • Keep 'em Public
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:01 a.m.

    Keep the parks public or everything will start to look like a Disneyland attraction - gift shop at the end of a "ride."

  • Big John
    Feb. 15, 2010 10:00 a.m.

    Wow, what a delight to see the near-universal scorn of those who have posted comments here. This is one of the worst ideas I have seen come out of the state legislature in a long time (and that, my friends, is saying something). These are public lands and should not be managed for the public good, not private profit.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 15, 2010 9:54 a.m.

    Why would we listen to Elis Ivory, a developer on privatizing state parks? That's whats wrong with this state, the governor was in Real Estate and Ivory is a developer. How about whats best for the state parks? Privatizing is so wrong. Seems privatizing always costs more in the long run. These developers would rather sell of our herativ=ge for a profit.

  • John C. C.
    Feb. 15, 2010 9:54 a.m.

    Public parks are especially needed by those who can afford the fees least. They should also be considered part of a free public education for all ages.

  • Peaches
    Feb. 15, 2010 9:50 a.m.

    The parks were set aside for the people of a state or this nation to enjoy. Encouraging those who would "get gain" by limiting access to God's pure creation to only those who could pay would be a huge mistake. How much more of our souls are we willing to sell for money?

    Let the parks remain (or revert to the) wild, if it comes to that. As many above have said, there would probably be enough volunteer work to handle the bare necessities.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 15, 2010 9:38 a.m.

    Cut the number of legislators and the number of days in the legislative session if you want to save some money. We need LESS GOVERNMENT!!! Then stop with the "message bills" and all the litigation that we'll spend in the courts. How about that?

  • Liz
    Feb. 15, 2010 9:09 a.m.

    The 45 day legislative session can't end too soon. The fact that this idea and many of the other cuts being proposed (as well as the wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars on likely constitutional challenges to "message" bills) is considered less radical than increasing revenue is just plain nuts!

  • Legislature IQ
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:51 a.m.

    Our legislature needs a complete overhaul. We are seeing ridiculous ideas coming out of it such as dropping 12th grade from public schools, privatizing state parks...to name just two!

    Stupid does as stupid says.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:49 a.m.

    Big mistake.

    Profits can't run everything in this state.

    That is what the legislature is trying to do with education and we can see how well that is working out.

  • Jenny
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:47 a.m.

    One has to ask which representative is pushing this and how much does he stand to make selling a park to his relative or friend.

  • hmmm
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:46 a.m.

    "This is just one more Republican grab for total control. "

    Lets see...Taking the parks out of the hands of the state government is "Republicans grab for total control"

    Wow...the leap of logic here is astounding...

    Wonder what the commentor really thinks....

    Bottom line...We have more services than we do revenue to support them. Out of one side of our mouths we cry "No more taxes" out of the other..."Don't take away my state provided benefits!"

    Sounds like a "have my cake and eat it too" scenario.

    Kudos to our lawmakers for seeing the hard choices and having the courage to move forward!

  • LRR
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:45 a.m.

    State Parks are for all the people to enjoy. Keep them primitive and cut down on Rangers, trucks, and big buildings. We just want to enjoy the pristine areas.

  • uritaata
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:27 a.m.

    The ideology that pivate can do better than public has reached it's peak of stupidity. Making profits should never be the purpose of state park and privatization is not always the solution to all our financial problems. In today's economy many private companies are going bankrupt.
    A company will always look at maximizing its's profit--not breaking even! If revenue is not in, park maintenance will most likely be cut, parts of the parks closed, safety trimmed ect...
    Not going in the right direction...



  • Anonymous
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:27 a.m.

    We need to understand that state parks preserve our heritage, some wilderness, and our history. This is not something which should be privatized. I have no objection to a small fee, or for a tax which might go to support these parks.

  • an old, old man
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:15 a.m.

    This is what Bush & Cheney tried to do to our national parks. Privatization is one more way to deprive common Americans of one of the best parts of our American way of life and pour more dollars into the pockets of Republicans in big business. Can you imagine the Haliburton Nature Trail around Old Faithful or having Kodachrome Basin run by Chevron?

    There is virtually no place left in Texas for Texans to go enjoy time with nature, because during the years Bush was governor down there, most of Texas was "privatized" and the new owners doubled or tripled fees for entrance and camping.

    This is just one more Republican grab for total control.

  • Keep them primitive
    Feb. 15, 2010 8:05 a.m.

    I agree with overspending. Keep the parks primitive, free of stores, internet connections, and other such things. Have a few signs and/or displays in the parking area to give a brief overview of the historical or natural aspects of the park. Have public restrooms in the parking area but not elsewhere. Have ramps and paved paths in the vicinity of the parking area and dirt, unmaintained paths elsewhere. Charge reasonable fees to help offset the tax dollars needed to pay for the minimum maintenance of the parks. Use tax dollars to list the parks in registries, but don't spend tax dollars to entice people to come to the parks. Let people come to the parks who are willing to endure the primitive nature of the parks, and let people who what more conveniences stay away. The parks should be available to all, but the parks shouldn't try to satisfy the needs of all. Let locals who are interested in a particular park form non-profit volunteer groups to help staff and maintain particular parks.

  • Bob R.
    Feb. 15, 2010 7:16 a.m.

    Opposed! Visit Utah parks in the Summer and Spring and see how heavily they are used. Utah is a big-family state and it is apparent in the park systems. Examine the limits of privatizing. Compare the offerings of public and private parks before taking that giant step. Privatizing, I think, will rob park visitors of a "nature" experience. Privatize buildings and services in towns and cities where it probably should be done but don't dole out nature to citizens by turning the remaining natural enclaves into profit generators.

  • Norm
    Feb. 15, 2010 6:18 a.m.

    While I do not necessarily disagree with Ellis Ivory's assumption that shutting state parks leads to losses in tourism revenues, I would like some data to back it up. I know of some state parks that are visited by tourists from outside of the State and others that seem to be visited mainly by locals. Visits by locals, in many cases, brings in little by way of hotel, food establishment, and other revenues.

  • SO...
    Feb. 15, 2010 5:33 a.m.

    ...give us a list of the parks that are being considered.
    Also, why would they consider cutting some parks and in the same breath talk about adding internet hookups in others.Let the paople that can't live without the internet stay home.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 15, 2010 5:01 a.m.

    At the same time, the department is embracing ways to be more innovative and businesslike ....

    "We want to be independent," Styler said. "We want to look for revenue opportunities."

    Its the Conservative Way......more $$$$$
    Less service

  • rvalens2
    Feb. 15, 2010 4:45 a.m.

    The State should allow non-profits to run the parks via contract but retain ownership so they continue to oversee how they are being run.

    I'm certain there are many people who through volunteerism and financial support would be willing to help keep the parks open. And do it at a cost much lower than what the State can do it for now.

  • new perspective
    Feb. 15, 2010 4:00 a.m.

    The issue is not parks. The solution is to have public programs ( medicade, care for disabled, elderly, young children) put on the sholders that can carry it best. Namely the churches. Our state is an embarresment to its heritage!

  • Over spending
    Feb. 15, 2010 3:28 a.m.

    For what reason do the park service want to install home amenities in the parks? People go to the parks to get away from home and there everyday habits. The only thing the parks need is trash cans for those who litter and can't take there trash with them.

    Privatizing these parks and fees to enter them is why I have stopped visiting them. The parks are getting too much development and commercialism in them, leave them alone and pristine. The park service is there to patrol the parks for eco-violations, law enforcement, and help those in them. They don't need souvenir shops or restaurants in them or camping facilities. Force the visitors to bring their needs and take their trash with them.

    Leave the parks undeveloped and stop with this mentality to make them a home like environment and do not privatize the parks. It will double the cost to enter and keep more people away.

  • Anonymous
    Feb. 14, 2010 11:35 p.m.

    One answer... NO!!!! Privatizing these parks would only go to further destroy the land that we have worked so hard to protect.