The Auctioning of National Parks

It seems that environmentalists are upset over the current auctioning off of National Parks to Oil companies. This from International Herald Tribune:

“Late on election day, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management announced a Dec. 19 auction of more than 50,000 acres of oil and gas parcels alongside or within view of Arches National Park and two other redrock national parks in Utah: Dinosaur and Canyonlands.

The National Park Service’s top official in the state calls it “shocking and disturbing” and says his agency wasn’t properly notified. Environmentalists call it a “fire sale” for the oil and gas industry by a departing administration.”

Is this truly a problem? Why should the government tax everyone to keep land preserved for hiking and visits? The classic argument would be that corporatism and profit driven people would take over the land and tear it down. One day we would be left with no trees and no beautiful landscapes to visit. Is this true?

This would be true, if people wanted it to be true. The free market would allow areas to buy this land and use it for the best use. This is as for any property. When an individual buys property often they build a house on it because it is the best use they need for the land.

If it was true that people enjoyed camping, hiking, and visiting these lands then you could imagine a corporation would buy the land for that reason. They would charge a price or a membership for you to have the ability to visit. Then other people could pay a higher fee for a weekend pass or one day, similar to a theme park. That way someone like me, who never uses the park but once in a blue moon, could not have to pay more than it’s worth.

Of course, there is a chance that there might be a natural resource there and they would have to drill.  If they had plans of turning it back into a park after the drilling, they would then have an interest in rebuilding it and replanting things. Most of the deforestation problems in countries like Brazil have more to do with lack of property rights – not more.

One of my professors this semester is on a rescue mountain team. He says sometimes they have to be police escorted because drugs are grown on our own National Parks. He know members who have been shot at. The lack of property rights is what causes the abuse of these National Parks, not their auctioning off. I would laugh if someone tried to grow drugs on a private company’s property.


Published in: on November 18, 2008 at 11:11 am  Comments (1)  
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  1. “I would laugh if someone tried to grow drugs on a private company’s property.”

    Happens all the time. I work at a manufacturing facility and someone was growing it, unbeknownst to us, near an unused entrance. And we don’t have thousands of acres of land!

    As far as drilling near the parks, I’m not a fan, but not because I love hiking & fishing. It’s because the parks are really meant for natural preservation, not for recreation, and close drilling damages that mission.

    Now I WOULD support well-planned explorations that keep an eye on the environment, even if they are near a national park. I am convinced that industry and nature can coexist if people put their minds & $$ towards it. It doesn’t even have to be a lot of $$ if people just take the time to plan properly & act unintrusively. Unfortunately, the current administration doesn’t see that as a priority and doesn’t add that as a condition of exploration.

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