National Parks

Backlash ensues over park service proposal to allow ads in national parks

Ads could soon pop up in Yosesmite.

Ads could soon pop up in Yosesmite.  (iStock)

Criticism has exploded over the National Park Service's newly revised signage policy which will now allow for some corporate logos and branding within park boundaries.

National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan Jarvis signed and completed revisions to Director’s Order #21, the NPS announced on Dec. 28. The order permits parks to recognize donors with labels on certain items but prevents corporations and other sponsors from actually renaming parks. 

So don't expect Yellowstone to become "Budweiser Presents America's Best National Park" this year.

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According to the order, no logos or ad language will be permitted either.

“While there will continue to be opportunities for limited donor recognition in parks, no one is going to commercialize national parks and park superintendents still won’t be allowed to solicit donations,” Jarvis said in the statement.

“We have federal law to back us up on that."

Still, some non-profit groups are fiercely opposed to the revision and backlash on social media has been biting.

“It is disgraceful that the parks service plans to sell our national parks to the highest bidder despite overwhelming public opposition to increased commercialism in our national parks,” Public Citizen, a non-profit group dedicated to “protecting health, safety and democracy,” said in a statement on Jan. 4.

“More than 215,000 petition signers and hundreds of commenters opposed this policy,” the statement continued.

“Now that this policy has been finalized, park visitors soon could be greeted with various forms of advertisements, like a sign reading “brought to you by McDonald’s” within a new visitor’s center at Yosemite, or 'Budweiser' in script on a park bench at Acadia.”

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But according to the NPS, the new policy “does include provisions similar to those of universities, museums, and hospitals across the country, under which rooms or galleries inside facilities, may be temporarily named to recognize a donor for support of the renovations to that facility." All signage must be approved by Jarvis himself, or the future NPS director. 

Despite assurances from the park service, groups like Public Citizen remain wary of the new policy and are still urging people to sign a petition  against the order. 

“The finalization of Director’s Order #21 signals a dangerous shift toward opening our parks up to an unprecedented amount of commercial influence,” the group says.