Note: With permission from High Country News, the following Writers on the Range story, “Zinke is Letting Corporations Profit Off Our National Parks,” written by Greg Zimmerman, is introduced to you.”
A company is cashing in on prized public lands by fleecing American taxpayers
By Greg Zimmerman
What if I told you that a multibillion-dollar company decided to trademark the name of one of America’s most prized national parks? And that the company then sued the United States to defend its purported trademark? And that to top it all off, that company has been invited into the inner circle of government by a now-indicted member of Congress, meeting in private with a Cabinet secretary and also sitting on a government advisory panel?
You’d probably reply that it all sounds outrageous, and that, if it’s true, it’s a genuinely shocking example of a corrupt presidential administration. Unfortunately, it’s true.
This story begins in 2015, when Delaware North, a New York-based hospitality and concessions business, lost the contract to run Yosemite National Park’s hotels, restaurants and gift shops. The company had held the contract for more than two decades, during which time it quietly trademarked names and images associated with iconic landmarks inside Yosemite, including the Ahwahnee Hotel, a national historic landmark, the likeness of Half Dome, and even the phrase “Yosemite National Park.”
Scott Gediman, the spokesman for Yosemite National Park, wasn’t happy with the name grab, telling The New York Times, “We feel strongly that the names belong to the American people.”
Land for Yosemite, which joined the national system in 1890, was set aside by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864. It’s hard to imagine that anyone would value a Trump Administration decision on conservation or any greatness measured against any “one” made by Abraham Lincoln.
Yosemite National Park? Nah.
That’s old hat, people want fresh, new names. They’re tired of hearing about Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Barack Obama. Let’s sell the name to our corporate friends. How about America’s Great Enron Energy Park, or maybe Halliburton National Mining Landmark, or The Lehman Brothers Chemical Extraction Grounds, or Pruitt’s Shyster Preserve . . . ! Lets’ Just Do It!