If private companies managed the parks' maintenance, campgrounds, trails, and infrastructure instead, our national parks could be a source of revenue for the government instead of an expense. A company could lease the right to manage a park under very strict parameters established to ensure admission fees stayed low and that the parks would be kept in pristine conditions. Many Forest Service campgrounds are already managed by private companies, and campers generally aren't able to tell a difference. A different structure for our treasured public lands could have kept Yellowstone open during the shutdown.
Due to the recent government shutdown, federal agents forced privately owned and managed parks to be shut down. However, these private parks were not funded or owned by the federal government. There is little to no reason the government should be shutting down these private parks, and any shut down of these parks was simply a political maneuver rather than a necessity. If you like this video, take the time and read this letter from Warren Meyer, the founder and president of Recreation Resources Management, to the White House who urged the federal government from closing privately funded and privately operated parks!
Case study by Holly Fretwell on funding parks.
Taking State Parks Off the State's Books [report]: Leonard Gilroy argues that states should explore the opportunity to let private operators run the technical operations of state parks while paying the state for the right to do so.
The National Parks: America's Best Idea [report]: PERC’s Brian Yablonski offers market-based solutions to preservation and functioning of our national park system.
Testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources hearing on "Funding the National Park System for the Next Century," July 25, 2013 [article]: A host of ideas, presented to the U.S. Senate on how to effectively fund and operate existing national parks.