Idaho’s cash-strapped state parks system will be looking to “tasteful” corporate sponsorships to try to help keep the state’s 30 parks open in the coming year, state parks chief Nancy Merrill told lawmakers this morning.
“We do not want to over-commercialize our state parks,” Merrill said, saying there will be no “Pepsi Cola state park in northern Idaho.”
She gave examples of what she has in mind: In California, Coca-Cola is funding interpretive signs that include just a small corporate logo at the bottom. North Face outdoor clothing company might donate ranger uniforms that could include their logo. Subaru might donate vehicles for use in parks. Juicy Juice might sponsor a children’s playground. Odwalla juice might pay for tree-planting.
“We’re not interested in broadcasting huge commercial ventures out there,” Merrill said. “What we are interested in is partnerships that will help sustain us … that fit Idaho.”
Lawmakers were mostly approving of the move; state funding for Idaho’s parks system dropped 77 percent in the past year, from $6 million to $1.4 million. Gov. Butch Otter’s budget proposal for next year calls for another 4.1 percent cut in state funding, though the overall budget would rise slightly; Merrill said that’s largely because of anticipated revenues from higher park fees.