The National Park Service (NPS) has unveiled its plans to allow commercial bioprospecting in the National Parks. Under the Bush plan, any of the nearly 400 NPS units could enter into a "benefits-sharing agreement" with a corporate research firm to extract and make money from organisms taken from the national parks, including millions of acres of wilderness areas.
Currently, NPS regulations permit reputable scientific or educational institutions to conduct research as long as they do not impair the park's natural or cultural resources, or visitor enjoyment. The document NPS put out for comment, technically called a Draft Environmental Impact Statement(DEIS) outlines three possible plans of action:
- Alternative A which calls for no action, thus allowing continued bioprospecting without so-called benefit-sharing agreements;
- Alternative B which allows commercial bioprospecting but requires benefits-sharing agreements and some degree of public disclosure (but does not guarantee complete transparency)this is the alternative NPS supports; and
- Alternative C which prohibits commercial bioprospecting, only allowing noncommercial or public interest research and development of national park resources.
The Bush administration has an effort to directly raise $1 billion for the private sector in solicitations and deals negotiated directly by national park officials. Details of the plan have yet to be unveiled but read about the earlier effort to trade corporate dollars for sponsorships:
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Recreational Industry Takeover
Although the great State of Texas has the nations lowest percentage of public lands, back in 1999 then-Governor George W. Bush asked resort developers and hoteliers to submit bids for the construction of 24 privately-managed nature lodging complexes to be located in state parks. The two-dozen targeted parks included the crown jewels of the Texas system, such as Guadalupe River and Pedernales Falls.
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