Monday, February 29, 2016

Turning WI state parkland into business parks

[Updated] It won't be long before a visit to your favorite Wisconsin State Park could feel like something between a trip to the mall or an afternoon at the auto show.

Remember that Walker and the GOP-led Legislature deliberately hamstrung Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources operations by cutting programs and personal, hence the announcement by the shrinking, short-handed agency that businesses could soon be drafting their own environmental permits.

Austerity fuels privatization of public resources, no?

And you're likely to see more of that because Walker and the Legislature also slashed state parks operating dollars from the 2015'-17 budget, so the short-staffed and cash-starved DNR is likely to sell naming rights and make other 'partnership' agreements with businesses to keep state parks up and running.

I'm not making this up: DNR Secretary and "chamber of commerce mentality" personification Cathy Stepp told that last year to the Legislature herself:
Wisconsin will consider selling naming rights to state parks to help them operate without tax support as proposed under Gov. Scott Walker’s biennial budget, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp told lawmakers Tuesday. 
Stepp said partnerships and sponsorship agreements with the private sector would be discussed over the next two years. 

*  Why not get rid of the revenue-neutral name of, say, Peninsula State Park in Door County, and let a car dealer or herbicide company or department store chain or oil pipeline company put its name at the entrance, and further brand the property as a theme park? Can't shopping or ideological indoctrination go in hand with camping, swimming and hiking?

10:35 p.m. update - - A sharp-eyed reader/historian told me that there was an effort to buy the naming rights to Peninsula State Park for $25,000 - - and the 1911 State Legislature returned the hopeful donor's money. 

* Similarly, break the logjam caused by competing use and development plans for a big, DNR-managed property in the Baraboo Hills by selling the naming rights to an ATV manufacturer. That would pick a winner among the use competitors and could also let the naming rights winner build a showroom, sales department and a test-ride track there. 

If the birdwatchers can make a better offer, fine, but remember, this is Wisconsin, 2016, where money talks.

*  By the same token, who would object if a big cattle feeding operation near a state park is willing to pay to put "A little extra protein in the groundwater won't kill you" stickers on the drinking fountains.

*  Let trade associations put members' logos and slogans on information kiosks at trail heads and on mile markers and in visitor centers and restrooms that offer catalogues and shareholder reports instead of those old-timey, generic state booklets with pretty pictures of wildlife that don't sell any products.

And don't overlook the small stuff, like adding a string of pharmacy or supermarket coupons to your park entry receipt. 

Go for it if there is a tie-in to the park's new corporate sponsor. A happy Wisconsin family returns home from a weekend in the woods with a dollar off two 12-packs of soda.


Anonymous said...

With Walkerism the improbable becomes the possible and the impossible becomes the likelihood. When Walker declared that Wisconsin is "open for business" we didn't think he intended to sell everything to whom ever wanted it; not even the highest bidder. If you make a campaign donation you are entitled to a piece of Wisconsin.

Anonymous said...

The real losers here are the small mom and pop grocery stores and gas stations outside of the parks who sell things to tourists. If the vendors are located inside the parks, why leave and give business to those who haven't ponied up what is likely to be a hefty fee to operate? This administration has been terrible to small businesses because they simply don't understand how they work. This is really too bad.

BReasonable said...

What ALEC wants from these pawns, ALEC gets...

...regardless of what the public wants, or what the Constitution and historic agreements say...