The National Parks folks have come around and finally admitted that sequestration....if it occurs on 2 January....will take out around 8.2 percent of it's current budget. Their commentary? Out of the 398 parks throughout America....they suspect they'd have to shutdown at least 150 of those parks.
I paused and pondered over this. For the big-name parks...it's $25 to enter....per vehicle. Doesn't matter if there's one guy in the car, or six.
Almost all of the parks will offer a yearly annual pass for around $40, which means if you live within a hundred miles....you could visit once a day for the twelve months.
Camping fees? They all offer camping and it's generally $10 to $20 per night. Lodge stays? Well....at the nicer lodges, it's up around $150 per night (yeah, that's a shocker). You want a cave-tour with a fancy-pants ranger? That will run around eight bucks per person. You want a soda at the grocery on the park? That usually runs around $2.50 per bottle (yeah, Wal-Mart sells it for 99-cents each).
Somewhere along the way, there's tons of money being generated within the National Parks system. I will admit that Rangers and park employees make more money than what the standard was in 1976....but there ought to be point where profits support the vast amount of the park support.
So I come to this odd topic out in Arizona. The state would like to take over the Grand Canyon National Park. Hell would have to freeze over before the National Park Service would allow their crown jewel to slip away. But the truth is....the state and local area around the Grand Canyon park now greatly depend on it's survival as part of their economic system. People drive up to Williams and spend a night in the local hotel before entering the park and spending all day there....then end up in Flagstaff for their 2nd night in a hotel. Gas and food? Folks tend to spend at least $150 for their single day visit at the Grand Canyon as they pass through. If they spend a week there....they will spend $1000 easily on the local economy.
What would happen if Arizona took over the Grand Canyon? The park rangers would be let go and a newer team would likely arrive....working for twenty percent less than the current group. There would be two hundred cabins erected around the park and folks would be charged $75 a night to 'camp-out' in semi-old surroundings. The clean-up crews? They'd be locals or from the local Indian tribe, and it'd be a contract deal. A fancy restaurant or two would be added to the park.
Yeah, it wouldn't have that National Park theme that we are so used to....but the truth of the matter is that everything now has a cost. We didn't think about that in 1977. We didn't really care about the entry fee other than grumbling that $25 is a bit too much to pay for one guy in one car.
I'm not saying every single park needs to be turned over....but I think the National Park Service is about to face a serious reality...if sequestration occurs. It might be time to accept some radical ideas.