By Mathias Eichler
Winter, trails, darkness, and all the weather.
One last hurrah before the end of the year. Runners, get ready for a fun and festive holiday treat along the trails of Squaxin Park.
To tag on to the post I wrote a few days ago about public land permitting being handed by public agencies to private entities and they in turn start price gouging as this is the American Way. Here’s a story of a lawsuit being filed against the private contractor managing Recreation.gov, a website for the public used to obtain camping permits, wilderness permits and other recreation access.
In some sense it’s great that for this big big country, with lots of National Parks, Forest lands, and BLM areas that a website like Recreation.gov exists and someone looking for a campsite or backcountry permit has a one-stop shop to obtain those and plan their vacation. But, due to the size of the operation only mega corps have a chance to respond to the RFPs by the government that solicit help in managing these portals and services.
Here’s the company that got awarded the contract to manage Recreation.gov:
Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corporation is the parent of Booz Allen Hamilton Inc., an American government and military contractor, specializing in intelligence.
A military intelligence company is managing campsites in National Parks? Yes, this is a somewhat gross simplification, but it shows the challenges of our federally managed public lands. Recreation.gov by-and-large is just a time-based shopping cart system like AirBnB or Expedia. It’s not a complicated website, yet the Federal agency awarding the contract to Booz Allen decided that a company with a history of military intelligence gathering is right for the job?
In similar vein, most National Park lodges and visitor centers are managed by ‘concession companies’ that bring their expertise from managing sport venues and conference centers. Yes, people go to our National Parks for the natural wonder and beauty and not for the warm hospitality, but if you’ve ever been disappointed in the mediocre overpriced hotdog offering at a National Park lodge, here’s your answer.