Evolution of Philanthropy in the National Park System

Point 9

There is long history of promotion of parks in the West by the Northern Pacific and the union Pacific Railroads that predated the establishment of the National Parks Service and has continued through to the present. As in Canada, the early national park lodges were built by the railroad companies to encourage rail travel. Travel to national parks continue to be a mainstay America's travel and tourism industry and National Park icon features continue to be prominent in advertising.

Our National Parks continue to be a very attractive to advertisers and marketers for corporate product placement, brand association and cause related marketing. At the same time, the National Parks are one of the very few remaining commercial brand-free places in American society.

A 2003 promotion event on the National Mall involving the National Football League and Pepsi drew a strong backlash from the public and Congress for excessively commercializing the Mall.

While there continue to be partnerships with corporations and businesses, the National Park Service has continued to draw the line on acceptable engagement with corporate involvement. The NPS guidelines on donor recognition currently preclude advertising in parks, conflict of interest, engaging with prohibited sources and even the appearance of corporate or product endorsement.