Idaho’s state parks system is looking for corporate sponsors for signs, brochures, group picnic shelters and the like, as part of its effort to make the parks system largely pay for itself, state Parks Director David Langhorst told lawmakers this morning. “We would hope to be able to acknowledge their donations on signage, printed materials and so forth,” Langhorst told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee during his budget presentation. “While this kind of activity isn’t prohibited in state code, it isn’t expressly allowed.” So at the suggestion of the Idaho Attorney General’s office, the parks department will be proposing legislation this year to specifically authorize such arrangements.
“We’ve got a goal for $20,000 the first year,” he said. Already, Airstream is working with the state to produce a 50th Anniversary Idaho State Parks-model trailer in the coming year; $500 from each sale would go to the department, and the trailer’s interior would be decorated in a theme tied to Idaho’s parks. “We’ve been trying to be creative,” Langhorst said. “There are many companies that really like parks, and they see some value in partnering with us.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
He pointed to precedents in public higher ed in Idaho, like Nike swooshes on college sports players’ uniforms and BSU’s Albertson Stadium and Taco Bell Arena. But Langhorst said the program would not include selling naming rights to Idaho’s 30 state parks. “The park names are pretty historic,” he said. He noted that in Montana, Subway has underwritten TV ads promoting state parks.
Idaho’s state Department of Parks and Recreation currently get just $3.5 million in state funds, about 6 percent of its budget. Other funds come from fees, sales and charges; grants; a small slice of state gas taxes; and registration fees collected on boats, snowmobiles, motorbikes, ATVs, and RV's. In fiscal year 2008, the department was allocated nearly $18 million in state general funds.