On pri­va­tiz­ing parks

The Oklahoman (Sunday) - - OPINION -

Re­gard­ing “Pri­vate-sec­tor touch could help state parks” (Our Views, Nov. 18): All branches of state govern­ment rely on taxes. Parks are no dif­fer­ent from any other area of govern­ment. State parks weren’t set up to be money mak­ers, they were set up be­cause they are fun­da­men­tal to who we are. Our parks are man­aged to be great places to learn state his­tory, ex­pe­ri­ence the beauty of our state, and re­flect on the fact that as a cit­i­zen you not only re­side in Ok­la­homa, but you and fel­low Ok­la­homans own beau­ti­ful places across our state. When tak­ing fam­ily camp­ing trips to Red Rock Canyon State Park, I told our young chil­dren we were vis­it­ing our ranch in Caddo County. Did our boys groan with, “Oh Dad!” Sure they did, but I was mak­ing a point that these spe­cial places be­long to them, and I think they got it. Pub­lic land own­er­ship drives a deep com­mit­ment in me, and it should in you also.

If we turn over man­age­ment of a park to a pri­vate en­ter­prise, their goal be­comes gen­er­at­ing a profit for them­selves and we for­feit part of our soul in the process. Let’s visit our parks. Let’s teach our young peo­ple own­er­ship and com­mit­ment. Let’s take the high road and act with vi­sion by keep­ing our state parks man­aged in our state’s longterm best in­ter­est, by pub­lic ser­vants not by pri­vate for-profit en­ti­ties.

Keep parks in the hearts and hands of the peo­ple.

Brian Wal­ter, King­fisher

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