That Trump has proposed adopting a more business-friendly stance comes at the same time his administration has proposed flat or reduced spending on parks despite increasing visitation. The exception to that will be if the president signs the Great American Outdoors Act, passed by the Senate in June and the House of Representatives on Wednesday, which would provide funding for the $12 billion to parks for backlogged maintenance projects.

“From proposing nearly $500 million in cuts to the Park Service’s already inadequate budget, to attempting to gut protections for our national monuments, this administration has systematically undermined and outright attacked our national parks and public lands and their staff,” said Bailey, of the National Parks Conservation Association.

In Yellowstone prior to the pandemic, tourism had increased to more than 4 million people annually. In the busy months of July and August it can be hard to find a place to park at popular geyser walks.

Counting visitors

Yellowstone National Park outdoor recreation planner Jenni Burr installs a trail counter. Visitation to national parks has dropped due to the novel coronavirus but still remains strong as people turn to the outdoors for recreation and exercise.


The Interior Department is advocating the change saying that the Concessions Management Improvement Act of 1998, which governs concession agreements, has not been substantively revised since 2000.

“Concessioners have used private funds to build most of the lodges and key visitor facilities in the national parks,” the agency said in its press release. “These buildings are now government property, maintained and operated by the concessioners. However, the trend for contract terms have been shorter over time, discouraging investment. Efforts to develop new visitor services often fail. Pricing approval policies are burdensome and complex. Prospectuses for concessioner services have not attracted companies new to the field and many have drawn no offers. There has been very little expansion of concessioner-provided visitor services to new units of the National Park System, which could address overcrowding in some of the most popular parks.”

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