Corporate Sponsors to Keep Parks Open
August 29, 2011
In the absence of revenue and the political will to keep all of California's 278 state parks open, 70 are scheduled to close. Cutbacks in maintenance and basic services should be expected at most of the rest. One partial solution, according to the Department of Parks and Recreation, is to allow some corporate logos in the parks as well as limited private management agreements. And though these options might conjure up a mountain range's worth of slippery slopes, they're better than the alternative, says the Los Angeles Times.
A few logo agreements already are in place at a handful of parks.
- A partnership between Coca-Cola and Stater Bros., for example, replanted trees in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which in 2003 suffered a wildfire so devastating that there were no trees left to provide seed for new growth.
- The companies also partnered in a project that rehabilitated areas of Chino Hills State Park after a 2008 fire burned more than 90 percent of the park.
- Stater Bros., a supermarket chain, promoted offers in which the purchase of $10 worth of Coca-Cola products would result in a donation of $1 to state parks.
- Customers were invited to donate an additional small sum at the store.
- Over three years, $2 million was raised.
- In exchange, very modest renditions of the companies' logos are included at the bottom of interpretive signs in the parks.
Called "cause marketing," these agreements fall somewhere between philanthropy and branding. The companies are frank about their motives: They gain sales through the promotions, as well as exposure and goodwill. But no one is talking about changing Chino Hills' name to Fanta Hills State Park. Corporate officials say they wouldn't even want such a thing; overpromoting their role creates a backlash.
Other ideas for saving parks include allowing nonprofit organizations to run some of them, forming partnerships with counties or cities to operate them, or even giving concessions to companies to manage parks that otherwise would close.
Source: "Keeping All State Parks Open," Los Angeles Times, August 20, 2011.
Browse more articles on Environment Issues