You know what makes camping better? AMAZON PRIME!
Because who doesn’t want to shop for shit while chilling under the stars waiting for their next Instagram moment?
Having Amazon deliver to National Park campsites is just one brilliant recommendation from the Trump administration’s ‘Made in America’ Outdoor Recreation Advisory Committee. ORAC’s mandate is to advise the Secretary of the Interior on ‘public-private partnerships across public lands’. Basically, they’re supposed to come up with creative new methods for privatising publicly owned spaces intended for preservation, not profit. What else are they suggesting? Dropping senior citizen discounts, installing WiFi, and allowing food trucks. They’ve also requested ‘categorical permissions’ to avoid pesky processes like environmental impact reports for infrastructure expansion. Because why would anyone want to worry about the environmental impact of development IN OUR NATIONAL PARKS?
These seemingly idiotic notions all make a lot more sense when you look at just who sits on the committee. Like the rest of Trump’s government, the ORAC is riddled with conflicts of interest and heavy with big political contributors.
Just how deeply mired in the un-drained swamp are they, you ask?
Member highlights include senior officials from three of the largest concession companies in the world, one of which already holds a $2 billion contract for hotels, campgrounds, and restaurants in Yosemite National Park. Then there’s Jim Rogers, former president of the largest privately held campground system in the world. But wait, remember a few weeks back when it was announced e-bikes, which are basically battery-powered motorcycles that require the vague notion of pedalling to propel them forward at up to 40 MPH, would be allowed in all national parks? Well, you can thank ORAC member Brad Franklin, for that. Ol’ Brad’s the ‘government relations manager’ of the Yamaha Motor Corp. Who, of course, make e-bikes.
Sounds like a solid crew with the American public’s best interest at heart.
Granted, our National Parks aren’t without their issues. Well attended, they get 318 million annual visitors. But a consistent lack of appropriate federal funding has left infrastructure throughout their 85 million collective acres in a bad way. There’s currently a $1.3 billion backlog on what the Parks Service deems ‘priority maintenance.’ Though if you listen to the ORAC, that number is as high as $12 billion. Why the disparate amounts?
Propaganda, of course.
‘The corporate interests on this committee (ORAC) stand to financially benefit from the privatisation and corporate giveaways they are empowered to make,’ Nicole Gentile, deputy director of public lands at the Center for American Progress, a liberal Washington think tank, told the LA Times. ‘And they are strategically inflating the Park Service’s maintenance backlog to use it as a talking point to scare the public into accepting privatisation as necessary in our national parks.’
Not that anyone can pretend Trump and his corrupt cadre are friends to the environment on any level—his latest atrocity is confirming America’s withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords. His administration continues to court climate change denial, even as countries like Italy insist it be taught to school kids, and the dead are literally rising in Louisiana. If these assholes are willing to let the entire world burn to line their pockets, why act surprised when our parks get raped?
So far under Trump’s tenure, the cost of lifetime senior passes has increased from $10 to $80, and he’s announced plans to further cut the Park Service’s 2020 budget by $481 million. Meanwhile, the gears of corruption are slowly turning toward plundering publicly held lands for private profits.
‘There’s a quiet, almost covert, effort to dismantle the public lands management infrastructure,’ Jim Lyons, who was Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Interior Department in the Obama administration, is quoted as saying in a paper published by the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. ‘It’s very effective. I call it evil genius.’
188 nations signed the Paris Accords, but a small number of very powerful forces have continued an unchecked onslaught against the planet. Brazil’s president is tightening his deathgrip on the Amazon, megacorps like Nestlé are buying up water rights all over the world, and fossil fuel companies incessantly lie and cheat while pipelines barf millions of gallons of leaked oil onto the soil and sea. Meanwhile, America is careening toward another election year, but even the liberal Democratic party are sidestepping public discourse on climate. At least you’ll be able to order Amazon, surf YouTube, and hit up a taco truck in the middle of a National Park while you watch it all burn down around you.