Corporate branding considered for state parks - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Corporate branding considered for state parks

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Posted: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 12:03 pm


Idaho State Parks, brought to you by … The North Face? Columbia Sportswear? REI?

With backup cash dwindling and no new income streams in sight, the state might sign a corporate sponsor to stave off park closures.

“We’re trying to get very creative in the way that we survive here,” Nancy Merrill, state Parks and Recreation Department director, told on Monday.

Merrill said department public relations staffers have consulted with a firm specializing in corporate-naming matchmaking and that a sponsorship policy will be presented to the department board in February. Potential partnerships with specific companies have not been discussed and how much money a deal might generate isn’t known, Merrill said. A handful of other states’ parks departments are exploring advertising arrangements with companies, according to the AP. Virginia is negotiating sponsorship with The North Face, while park workers’ uniforms in New Hampshire could soon sport the emblem of a regional outdoor outfitter.

Such is possible here, Merrill said, as is corporate logos slapped on signs, maps, trail markers, playgrounds, and recycle bins. She said she’s wary of a potential backlash to commercialization of parks and that any corporate branding would be done “carefully and modestly.” Corporate names would not be tagged to facilities, she said.

“I think that we have to realize that we have a resource to protect. We don’t want to take away from nature,” she said, adding, “Commercialization is a difficult thing.”

Difficult, but perhaps necessary to maintain the parks system, which counts 30 facilities and about 4 million users per year. The department only avoided closing any parks this year by slashing 25 workers, raising various fees, drawing from reserves and borrowing from a recreation vehicle registration fee account. The moves were a response to Gov. Butch Otter and the Legislature cutting general fund money given to parks from $6 million to $1.4 million per year. The department’s $30.4 million budget for fiscal year 2011 is $8 million less than the year before.

Given the extent of job cuts already made, Merrill said, “we really don’t have any place to go. The only thing we have left to do is to close the least revenue-generating parks.”

Besides corporate sponsorship, the department is considering doing away with $40 annual passes, which require a special effort to purchase, and instead allowing people year-long access by checking a box and paying $5 when they register their vehicles — more revenue has resulted from the switch in other states. Developing a smart phone application that would charge users to access parks information is another idea being batted around.

Said Merrill of the varied offbeat possibilities: “We’re kicking over every stone we can.”

  • Discuss

Welcome to the discussion.


  • Triumph posted at 9:53 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    Triumph Posts: 645

    Take back, it sounds like you've got some kind of grudge with business.. I'm guessing that you're not a business owner...?? I own businesses and you'll be pleased to know that I pay through the nose for taxes, fees, ect. Also to your delight I havent taken a penny from my business in 2 years! Actually I don't know many business owners who have made money at all in the past couple years. I'm pretty sure you're either very misinformed, or just wound tight with negative emotion toward business....

  • Thaddeus posted at 7:22 am on Wed, Dec 1, 2010.

    Thaddeus Posts: 232

    The Bill McCrory Memorial Toilet Farm has a nice ring to it.

  • rollingthunder posted at 9:12 pm on Tue, Nov 30, 2010.

    rollingthunder Posts: 371

    The State of Idaho could take the 8 million from Species Conservation fund of 23 million or the Department of Commerce budget of 39 million. The legislature could finance the State Parks budget if they wanted too. Phil Hart should make a big donation as he has saved a lot of money by not paying taxes and he is handy at securing building materials at no cost.

  • TakeBackTheUSA posted at 2:54 pm on Tue, Nov 30, 2010.

    TakeBackTheUSA Posts: 765

    "Kicking over every stone?" Just whose chain are you idiots jerking? The rest of us pay, pay, pay, and then pay some more while business goes along for the ride, with every tax break known to man. How about if we ALL pay a share instead of the idiots in Boise letting themselves and their coffer filling buddies slide. Who do you think protects this country? It sure as blazes isn't Georgy Business. And don't bring up all those great jobs business "gives" us, at $8/hr. This state needs some MAJOR upheaval to straighten it out.

  • greyhound2 posted at 2:23 pm on Tue, Nov 30, 2010.

    greyhound2 Posts: 897

    With the decision of the Supreme Court about two months ago to allow unlimited contributions (bribes) by corporations to political campaigns, you might as well kiss off any delusion of the "We the People" junk.

  • Randy Myers posted at 1:41 pm on Tue, Nov 30, 2010.

    Randy Myers Posts: 1635

    Ugh regarding the corporatization of the parks.....

  • Nutter Watch posted at 12:31 pm on Tue, Nov 30, 2010.

    Nutter Watch Posts: 476

    It couldn't be much worse than what we have now. What with Hayburn state park named for one of the most anti-environment cranks Idaho ever produced, one who fought Teddy Roosevelt every step of the way in the establishment of the forest service. Mount Borah could be renamed phallus peak, but I won't go there, and renaming "Sun Valley" after Bank Of America would would be no improvement in "truth in labeling".

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