Dear federal government: Do less.

posted at 9:21 pm on October 3, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Question: Why is this even remotely necessary? From the Billings Gazette over in Montana:

For Steve Galletta, the shutdown is threatening to cost him $10,000 in business just this weekend. That’s because the National Park Service has barred access to two fishing access sites on the upper reaches of the internationally renowned Bighorn River, a trout fishing mecca… where the government shutdown Tuesday took the form of 8-foot long concrete barriers that blocked access. …

“They closed something down that they never monitored all year long,” said Rick Law at the Bighorn Trout Shop.

He said the nearby Park Service contact station, where anglers pay a fee to launch their boats at the federal sites, had been empty all summer and he never saw a Park Service employee picking up trash or even enforcing the parking rules.

Answer: It isn’t.

First of all, making a particular point of barring access to federal lands is a great way to really spread the visibility and inconvenience of the government shutdown across the country from its epicenter in Washington, D.C., if that’s your game — and this definitely sounds like a first-class case of the feds going out of their way for a little “Washington Monument strategy“-ism, as Jonathan Adler notes at the the Property and Environment Research Center:

Bryan Preston reports that the federal government is ordering private contractors to close campgrounds and the like on federal lands even where such properties do not rely upon federal funds to operate. Indeed, in many cases, these properties generate revenue for the federal government. According to Preston’s report, similar closures were not ordered during prior shutdowns, so they would not seem to be required. …

The fact that some facilities are being closed now when they were not closed during prior shutdowns suggests these are discretionary choices.

Secondly, while Obama’s Department of Interior is clearly pulling out all the stops here, there are also clearly cases in which the government is shutting down lands that do rely on federal funds to operate — and frequently, this is entirely unnecessary.

Big-government progressives and self-proclaimed environmentalists too often tend to support the notion that the management of our many and diverse natural treasures is best left to the auspices of the federal government (which owns about one-third of the surface area of the United States, by the way). In reality, however, the bureaucratic inefficiencies, political uncertainties, regulatory hurdles, and incessant funding shortfalls you regularly find plaguing other government operations regularly translate into environmental degradation when applied the stewardship of our national parks.

The good news is, there are other options for both the recreational funding and ecological management of our great outdoors than top-down, improficient federal control. Here’s some testimony provided to Congress in July from Shawn Regan, another PERC fellow, on that front:

Congress should also look to state parks for innovative management strategies. State parks receive 700 million visits each year, more than twice as many visits as the National Park Service but on less than 20 percent of the acreage. Similar to the NPS, most state parks rely on appropriations and user fees for funding. When state budgets are tight, state parks are among the first to be cut. To address these funding challenges, some states have entered into creative public-private partnerships that improve visitor service, reduce management costs, and keep parks open, often with no reliance on government appropriations. Congress should explore similar partnerships for national park management. …

Congress should encourage similar public-private partnerships for national parks. Contrary to one common misconception, such partnerships with private companies will not result in the construction of a McDonalds next to Old Faithful or luxury condos overlooking the Grand Canyon. Under the terms of the operating contract, private park operators cannot change fees, facilities, or impact the natural resources within a park without the approval of the public agency. Private park operators must manage within public agency’s mission. While the NPS currently uses private concessionaires for many in-park operations, Congress should encourage more public-private partnerships for national park management across the agency, building on the success of companies like Recreation Resource Management.

This is some great information for any self-proclaimed conservationist to dig into, and I’d encourage you to read on for specific examples of the successes of the semi-privatization strategy (including the privately-run and revenue-generating parks that the Obama administration is currently ordering to close their gates) as well as still more ideas for consistent and efficient stewardship of our parks. Bullet-points version:

-Local managers know better than Congress how to address their maintenance and operational needs.

-Overreliance on congressional appropriations contributes to maintenance backlogs and causes park managers to respond to political forces rather than park users.

-Congress should continue to allow the National Park Service to charge recreation fees and retain most of the revenue onsite to reinvest in infrastructure and operations.

-The federal government should stop acquiring new land and use revenues from the Land and Water Conservation Fund for the maintenance and operation of existing federal lands.

-Congress should look to state parks for innovative management strategies such as public-private partnerships that can improve park operations and reduce funding needs.

If there are any lessons we can glean from the current shutdown, one of them is certainly that the federal government simply does too much stuff — and micromanaging the American landscape does not need to be one of them.


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It’s all about bringing the pain.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM

It’s all about bringing the pain.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM

YEP! Stab stab stab

bazil9 on October 3, 2013 at 9:28 PM

Here in Ga we have some horse trails on federal land built and maintained by volunteers. The volunteers were supposed to work on the trails thus weekend but now they have been told they cant. Theres a parking lot and trails thats it They asked why and got no answer. Garland Mountain Trails

ldbgcoleman on October 3, 2013 at 9:31 PM

This is easy to understand: Obama hates America and Americans.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM

epicenter in Washington

I swear I first read that as saying sphincter….LOL…and I just got new glasses too.

BeachBum on October 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM

On/off road motorcycles go around barrycades pretty nicely. Nice quiet tour of the empty campgrounds this weekend.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 9:36 PM

The micromanaged slimdown is designed for it’s optics and has nothing whatsoever to do with common sense.

HotAirian on October 3, 2013 at 9:39 PM

GA horsetrails- go anyway.

Fluke them.

You could always chain yourselves to the trees like the hippies get away with.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

We could be seeing actions of government gone wild that could lead to a great reorganziation. While Obama thinks it is clever to maximize the pain to the maximum number of Americans, he is simultaneously highlighting to Americans the vast overreach of the federal government. If enough people get angry enough about this, some future conservative president and congress could get the feds out of land ownership business, and many other businesses as well. The longer this goes on, the better.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

I am so sick of this petty little b@stard! I’m just about ready to go to my shack in the woods and say to h!ll with it all.

Barred on October 3, 2013 at 9:43 PM

You’re expecting the deep-ecos, who finally have a POTUS who agrees with them on everything and a Democratic Party leadership that is equally delusional on all things “green”, to give up the absolute power they now have to dictate how, or even if, the peons derive any benefit at all from Holy Mother Gaia?

(Other than watching government-produced documentaries about it in their tiny apartments in “the projects”, that is.)

When. Pigs. Fly.

To Alpha Centauri.

With warp engines.

clear ether

eon

eon on October 3, 2013 at 9:45 PM

Issa’s committee needs to drag in someone from the Parks service and ask WHO exactly is ordering all of this.

GarandFan on October 3, 2013 at 9:45 PM

GBA- except that the population centers/big cities don’t even think that way.

Out here in the country, and the burbs,,, yea.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 9:46 PM

I’ve fished up there and it is incredible, the Rainbows are easier to catch but the Browns are more numerous.

Only a petty little biotch would keep someone from angling up there, the place is wide open and designed by nature for awesome fishing.

Bishop on October 3, 2013 at 9:49 PM

This is easy to understand: Obama hates America and Americans.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2013 at 9:33 PM

The feeling is mutual. Obama will be gone, America will rise and this
long national nightmare will be behind us.

redguy on October 3, 2013 at 9:50 PM

Why is this even remotely necessary?

Erika, think for a moment. Without the barrycades , closure signs etc. how would anyone even know part of the gov was shut down. No one would even notice. That is the crux of it all. Its un needed.

Bmore on October 3, 2013 at 9:55 PM

The micromanaged slimdown is designed for it’s optics and has nothing whatsoever to do with common sense.

HotAirian on October 3, 2013 at 9:39 PM

Consider how much planning it must have taken from the top down in order to coordinate all of the closings (barry-cades of all kinds; personnel to work when entire departments were shut down) across the country.

They knew the shutdown could happen, so they were ready to cause inconvenience to Americans with the intent of making this shutdown appear as though the Republicans were solely responsible for it.

Conversely, the top down management had three years to set up a Bammycare website, but they blew that logistical nightmare out of their collectiv(ism) asses.

Coincidence?

VibrioCocci on October 3, 2013 at 9:57 PM

h = H

Bmore on October 3, 2013 at 9:57 PM

Here in Ga we have some horse trails on federal land built and maintained by volunteers. The volunteers were supposed to work on the trails thus weekend but now they have been told they cant. Theres a parking lot and trails thats it They asked why and got no answer. Garland Mountain Trails

ldbgcoleman on October 3, 2013 at 9:31 PM

looks like the people in charge don’t want to lose money by paying those volunteers their very large salary of… $0.00. *facepalm*

Sachiko on October 3, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Why is this even remotely necessary?

Erika, think for a moment. Without the barrycades , closure signs etc. how would anyone even know part of the gov was shut down. No one would even notice. That is the crux of it all. Its un needed.

Bmore on October 3, 2013 at 9:55 PM

Leviathan: See! See! We’re relevant! You need us! You will want us.

I bet Valerie Jarrett has a lot to do with this.

Punchenko on October 3, 2013 at 10:00 PM

“I wish I had a father who was around and involved…”
 
President Barack H. Obama, March 2013

 

And yet again:
 
Us, too, Mr. President.

rogerb on October 3, 2013 at 10:00 PM

I’ve fished up there and it is incredible, the Rainbows are easier to catch but the Browns are more numerous.

Only a petty little biotch would keep someone from angling up there, the place is wide open and designed by nature for awesome fishing.

Bishop on October 3, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Rainbows are such suckaa’s. I’ve caught them on bass lures.

katy the mean old lady on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Funny how all those closed signs were ready to go day 1.

I was around Saguaro East National earlier today and saw 3x as many gubmint patrols.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

My utmost dream would be to see the federal government stay shut down for weeks or months…and hope that maybe, just maybe, the majority of Americans came to realize that we can get by just fine without the tendrils it’s managed to encroach into our lives.

Or in other words, the cupboards aren’t bare. They’re overstocked and it’s time to have the mother of all fire sales.

Phoenix7 on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Not to go all Alex Jones on everybody, but what if all these closings and barricading is just a scaled down dry run for when Obaa puts us under martial law?

vcferlita on October 3, 2013 at 10:06 PM

Funny how all those closed signs were ready to go day 1.

I was around Saguaro East National earlier today and saw 3x as many gubmint patrols.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

EXACTLY!

VibrioCocci on October 3, 2013 at 10:08 PM

Waa waa waa I don’t care. Close it all down. If you don’t have money saved up for a rainy day, sorry for your luck. And don’t you congress critters DARE think about paying the staff who aren’t working. I don’t get paid when I don’t go into work. Why should these parasites?

TeaParty on October 3, 2013 at 10:11 PM

I’ve fished up there and it is incredible, the Rainbows are easier to catch but the Browns are more numerous.

Only a petty little biotch would keep someone from angling up there, the place is wide open and designed by nature for awesome fishing.

Bishop on October 3, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Rainbows are such suckaa’s. I’ve caught them on bass lures.

katy the mean old lady on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

If you all have time go to the Billings Gazette link, they have tape roped around an “interpretive center”.

I was rotflma because the only thing that might scare off are a few prairie dogs. STUPIDx10000000000000000

MontanaMmmm on October 3, 2013 at 10:16 PM

We could be seeing actions of government gone wild that could lead to a great reorganziation. While Obama thinks it is clever to maximize the pain to the maximum number of Americans, he is simultaneously highlighting to Americans the vast overreach of the federal government. If enough people get angry enough about this, some future conservative president and congress could get the feds out of land ownership business, and many other businesses as well. The longer this goes on, the better.

GaltBlvnAtty on October 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Couldn’t agree with you more. Here’s hoping that little pissant currently occupying our house comes down with a real red line, running right up his leg headed straight for his heart. Blood poisoning? Call 800-F@CK- YO.

Naturally Curly on October 3, 2013 at 10:18 PM

I was around Saguaro East National earlier today and saw 3x as many gubmint patrols.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

Wonder what these guys were doing before the shutdown? Patrolling elsewhere? Pencil pushing? Are they “essential” and on the shutdown payroll or working for nothing, expecting to receive back-pay later when the show’s over.

The House should start adding the provision to its CRs that no one will receive compensation for whatever they did during the shutdown that wasn’t what they were doing before the shutdown.

It’s costing more to close these places down than to keep them open. Costing the government revenue, too. But mostly reminding people that Washington DC has no business running these places.

de rigueur on October 3, 2013 at 10:19 PM

I wish someone (RWM?) would compose a gallery of the ridiculous places they have closed down. The one of the Interpretive Center is a hoot.

Barred on October 3, 2013 at 10:33 PM

All over the country people are ignoring the Feds under similar circumstances. The Feds are devoting more manpower to discomfort the public than the facilities normally use.

pat on October 3, 2013 at 10:37 PM

Concrete?? Really?? Someone took time out of a busy day to move large pieces of concrete down there to block the entrance??

What next? Planting mines?

CurtZHP on October 3, 2013 at 10:47 PM

Just ignore the barriers. Chances are there is nobody there anyway and they seem to forget it is us, the citizens that own the land in the first place. This “shutdown” is only exposing how much Americans don’t miss non-essential govt functions.

Ellis on October 3, 2013 at 10:49 PM

BBC newsreader refers to ‘budget s***’ as he tries to unravel U.S. shutdown crisis live on air

Murphy9 on October 3, 2013 at 10:39 PM

…he had it right!

KOOLAID2 on October 3, 2013 at 10:52 PM

If there are any lessons we can glean from the current shutdown, one of them is certainly that the federal government simply does too much stuff — and micromanaging the American landscape does not need to be one of them.

How about, Obama is a Petulant Spoiled Brat who will spend more money inconveniencing people than it would cost the government not to.

jaydee_007 on October 3, 2013 at 11:23 PM

If any of you have been awake….Obama has been using the National Park Web Sites as political sledge hammers for a long time now. They have been plastered with threats about sequestration and the problems it may cause for access to Federal lands.

Great politcal theater and another example of the ruthlessness of the progressives in contrast to the absolute clusterfark of ideological confusion coming from the opposite side.

rickyricardo on October 4, 2013 at 12:49 AM

I’ve fished up there and it is incredible, the Rainbows are easier to catch but the Browns are more numerous.

Only a petty little biotch would keep someone from angling up there, the place is wide open and designed by nature for awesome fishing.

Bishop on October 3, 2013 at 9:49 PM

Yes, but can the government afford to keep the rivers flowing and the fish biting in the middle of a government shutdown?

The fish are just going to have to go hungry until Congress pays the park rangers to feed them.

We all have to make sacrifices.

There Goes the Neighborhood on October 4, 2013 at 1:08 AM

You could always chain yourselves to the trees like the hippies get away with.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 9:40 PM

Only conservatives can get arrested for “making a statement.”

AesopFan on October 4, 2013 at 1:14 AM

Those who made the decisions about blocking access should be fired, this will free some money for the government.

anikol on October 4, 2013 at 1:25 AM

I think fishing is a 1st amendment activity,

and hunting is the only reason the second amendment was written

dutch love on October 4, 2013 at 1:50 AM

and we are apparently only allowed on gubament land if we are being constitutional

dutch love on October 4, 2013 at 1:55 AM

Boy I can’t wait for these guys to have total control over the Health Care System. Think of the fun they can have then.

Do you have any doubt now, of the true meaning…. when you hear the knock at the door and the voice on the other side says I from the gubRmint and am here to help…

roflmmfao

donabernathy on October 4, 2013 at 2:15 AM

They really screwed up. It hit me like a ton of bricks today when I saw that large electronic sign on I40 saying “Grand Canyon Closed”. I should have took a picture. Any new power they want in the future, you just need to hold up that picture.

Buddahpundit on October 4, 2013 at 3:05 AM

It’s all about bringing the pain.

Steve Eggleston on October 3, 2013 at 9:25 PM

It’s the Chicago way.

sadatoni on October 4, 2013 at 7:32 AM

Funny how all those closed signs were ready to go day 1.

I was around Saguaro East National earlier today and saw 3x as many gubmint patrols.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

This doesn’t surprise me.
And the MT closings, either.
I cancelled my geology HS field trip to the Custer SD area in the Black Hills NOT bcs they closed Jewel Cave & Mt Rushmore. I know where to go to see Jewel Cave-esque stuff (there’s a small cave alongside the road in Vanocker Canyon). And while it may not be as big as the monument, we could have seen what we wanted to see. I also wasn’t concerned about Mt Rushmore closing. You can see the damned thing from Iron Mtn Road.
It was only the 2 foot of snow coming this weekend that ruined my plans.
What I imagine has happened in a lot of the backwoods federal land regions is park officials for the last several weeks have been ginning up for this by getting signs & getting their payloaders ready to dump concrete road blocks all over the backcountry.
I, in all my ramblings around the Black Hills, Big Horns, Pryor Mtns, Wind River Ranger, Yellowstone backcountry, and the greater Absarokas area (pronounce AbsorKUH-Longmire show does it wrong), I have NEVER in all those years EVER seen a forest service employee doing anything anywhere.
I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I often wondered. I spent a lot of time within the lat 20 years in those areas. And never encountered any of them that weren’t at a visitor’s center or right off the main road.
So Americans do not need to be supervised in the backcountry. Nor really any of those other places to enjoy them.
And the few personnel that are needed could be mostly volunteer & privatized.
The forest service campgrounds in the Black Hills have been run by private entities for many years now. Everything is better actually bcs of that.

Badger40 on October 4, 2013 at 7:37 AM

The governor of SD offered up his staff AND private donations to keep Mt Rushmore open.

And the Feds said no. Why?
“Park Service spokeswoman Maureen McGee-Dallinger said Monday night that she hasn’t seen the letter, but that the agency couldn’t hand control of the park to the state.

“It’s not open for state or private entities to operate since it is a federal entity,” she said. “If there is a federal lapse in funding, we would be closed.”
Nice reason. That’s not a reason.
This should be a lesson to ALL Americans the govt has too much power.

Badger40 on October 4, 2013 at 7:40 AM

I was around Saguaro East National earlier today and saw 3x as many gubmint patrols.

wolly4321 on October 3, 2013 at 10:01 PM

I’ll bet they weren’t stopping any illegals though.

oldernwiser on October 4, 2013 at 7:45 AM

Just wait till next time when they can and will shutdown hospitals because of obamacare

Caseoftheblues on October 4, 2013 at 8:00 AM

I’ll bet they weren’t stopping any illegals though.

oldernwiser on October 4, 2013 at 7:45 AM

Border patrol agents have been ordered to stand down and not pursue ANYONE for ANY reason crossing the borders

Caseoftheblues on October 4, 2013 at 8:02 AM

Alinsky’s RULE #12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

Time for nationwide demonstrations against not Congress but Barack Hussein Obama. As Norman Schwarzkopf said during Gulf War 1, cut the head of the snake off. Just say no to Obama 24/7. He must be ridiculed day and night. Never stop, never give up. Destroy him politically and you take down the entire progressive movement.

SpiderMike on October 4, 2013 at 9:09 AM

Stuff like this might actually make people reconsider the idea that handing over massive swaths of State Sovereign land is NOT a way to ensure it is available to all Americans now and into the future.

Perhaps we could start a movement to return these parks to the states.

astonerii on October 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM

The State governments should just rescind their permission to the federal government to use such land.

Because that is State land. Federal management is just that: federal management.

If a State doesn’t like the way the federal government is managing their land, then permission to use and oversee such land can and should be rescinded by the State legislature. And if the legislature was never asked for permission for the federal government to have such land, then it can be taken back immediately as the proper permission is necessary from the States on a per parcel basis. And that concept of ‘eminent domain’ also belongs to the State for the lands of the State.

I do want the federal government to do less.

And the States need to decide if what has been done on their land is something they actually endorse of if they can do a better job of it than the federal government can.

ajacksonian on October 4, 2013 at 9:49 AM

They had those signs and barrycades ready to be put in place on day 1. This whole kabuki in DC is for publication only. They want to get us deeper in debt, control our every movement and thought until we’re as happy as the citizens in the USSR were. Get a grip cuz we have no one able to stop this.

Kissmygrits on October 4, 2013 at 10:04 AM

The federal government should not own any land except military bases and Washington DC. Then there would not be the opportunity for them to do things like this.

oldbearak on October 4, 2013 at 10:34 AM

oldbearak on October 4, 2013 at 10:34 AM

The military should be turned over to the states as well.
They should be forced to LEASE D.C on a 20 year plan.

astonerii on October 4, 2013 at 10:43 AM

SUGGESTION:

Every one of the barriers listed above (and all similar ones) should immediately be spray-painted “OBAMA HATES YOU!!!”

landlines on October 4, 2013 at 9:41 PM