I don’t know about you, but I love public parks. City parks for hiking, little league, and summer concerts. State parks for camping. National parks like the Grand Canyon to experience the awe of nature. Parks are some of our most precious public assets.
But only if they remain public. This week, candidates in Kentucky’s gubernatorial election suggested that the state could privatize parks to raise revenue. That’s a misguided solution to the wrong problem: the state’s failure to invest enough in essential public assets. Advocates of privatization say the private sector will attract more tourists. But that would jeopardize the central mission of public parks to provide affordable access to nature and recreation. Parks managed by companies, like other private assets, will need to generate profit—funds that should be spent on maintaining and improving them.
The citizens of Kentucky aren’t alone. To manage the 14 million acres of state park lands in the U.S.,