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WASHINGTON, D.C. Aug. 11, 2016– More than 200,000 people have signed petitions telling the National Park Service (NPS) that national parks should not be billboards for corporate advertising, and advocates will deliver the signatures to NPS headquarters on Friday, August 12.
The signatures were gathered by CREDO Action, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC).
The petition signatures were gathered in opposition to the revision of an NPS policy (called Director’s Order #21: Philanthropic Partnerships), which would allow parks to actively seek donations from corporate vendors, loosen rules on “donor recognition,” drop the current policy that parks must be free of commercialism and lift various restrictions on naming rights in parks.
Citizens are concerned that allowing naming rights and space for advertisements in the parks could result in corporate-influenced park policy, leading to conflicts of interest and compromised public trust in NPS.
“America’s national parks have long served as an open resource for all citizens to explore, build social ties and camaraderie, and learn from the natural world void of commercial intrusions,” said Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert program, in a letter to the NPS. “This centennial year of the National Park Service is the time to reinvigorate, not abandon, that essential democratic character.”
Public Citizen and CCFC are set to deliver the petition signatures on Friday and will meet with NPS staff to explain the concerns, share comments from the public and ask what NPS plans are moving forward with the proposed policy change.
“A visit to a national park should provide respite for us all, and a break for children from the constant stream of marketing they see every day,” said David Monahan, campaign manager of CCFC. “The sponsorships permitted under the proposed new policy would give kids the impression that our cherished natural resources are owned by corporate interests.”