Corporate Logos May Appear in National Parks

"We're trying to join the world of philanthropy," spokesman says

Will the logos of corporate donors appear near the Washington Monument and National Mall? The National Park Service says maybe.

The park service is considering a plan that would allow private and corporate donors to display corporate logos on portions of park properties. 

Any signage displaying the company names or logos would be discrete, park service spokesman Jeffrey Olson said. He said the funds would support badly needed projects.

"This effort is to move us into the 21st century with philanthropy, donations and partnerships," Olson said.

The National Park Service oversees more than 400 sites across the country, drawing 300 million visitors per year. But budgets from Congress are tight. The plan is expected to boost donations.

But some groups say the plan risks dangerous intrusion of private interests onto public lands, which they say should remain free of commercialization or corporate influence.

"This isn't about philanthropy. It's about marketing and merchandising," said Jeff Ruch of the nonprofit Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

"It changes what people see in the parks and who the parks are operated for," Ruch continued. "That amount of corporate dependence is going to bring with it influence over park management policies."

The park service contends the critics are wrong and that the program will create nothing like the flashy naming rights for a ballpark.

"We're trying to join the world of philanthropy that I think people are familiar with at universities, with zoos [and] with libraries," Olson said.

The official public comment period on the plan has ended. The new policy would likely be put in place by late this year.

Editor's Note: This story has been updated to clarify that the National Park Service is considering the sale of naming rights to portions of properties, not entire monuments or parks. 

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