Last week, President Donald Trump removed endangered species protections for the grizzly bear, placing them at risk of becoming — once again — endangered. Now, the president’s Secretary of the Interior, Ryan Zinke, has called for the administration to sell off large portions of America’s national parks to private businesses, constituting a “corporate takeover of our national parks.”
A part of this sell-off includes cutting roughly 13 percent of Interior’s budget. This is despite the fact that the department is already struggling with a $12 billion backlog of critical services that keep the national parks open for the public.
The cuts to the Department, along with the proposed privatization, will almost certainly lead to a reduction of access to and maintenance of our national parks. According to the National Resource Defense Council, the proposed “public-private partnerships” are merely:
‘…code for privatizing the management of our national park system. The idea is both unpopular…and unwise.”
This move fits within Zinke’s previous declaration that he was uninterested in being in the “business of running campgrounds.” Yet, as the Secretary of the Interior, this is exactly the business he signed onto.
In many respects, this constitutes yet another abdication of duty by the Trump administration. The protection of our lands and creating access to public, national parks have been a cornerstone of the American experience for generations. And while Zinke is attempting to convince us on the idea that this new proposal will inherently be better for Americans and the parks, the reality is that this policy is nothing more than an attempt to privatize yet another public good.
Public schools? Privatize.
Jails and prisons? Privatize.
Social Security? Privatize.
It only makes sense that, after Republicans have finished privatizing every aspect of our personal lives, the next move would be to further privatize our national parks and to do so all under the guise of “private is better and more efficient.”
What we find more often than not is that private simply means less access for the average American. Not only is Zinke’s policy proposal not in the best interest of Americans, it is not in the best interest of the millions of acres of American land.
Featured Image via Mark Wilson/Getty Images