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Selling Scions by the Seashore

Toyota Scion

The Toyota Scion, promoted recently at Alcatraz Island.

I was surprised to read about a special event held on Alcatraz Island last Saturday. As described in this San Francisco Chronicle article, there was a private party held especially to market the Toyota Scion. Quoted from the article -

"It took six months of us reaching out to convince the National Parks Service to let us do this,'' said Prem Kumta of Flavor Group. (It probably didn't hurt that Toyota donated a Scion to the Parks Conservancy.) Brand-new Scions were parked on the path leading up to the prison and on the ferry dock in San Francisco;

Using Park Service managed property to help sell cars for Toyota? This just doesn't sit right. It's as if the mission were changed so that conserving and protecting Alcatraz unimpaired as a historic object is important, not for future generations, but for holding knock-out private parties. If this type of activity is acceptable, what is next? How will other car manufacturers react?

I can just imagine that Jeep would love to hold something special at Arches National Park during the annual Easter off-road event in Moab, UT. Jeep would probably love to give you the opportunity to test drive the new Grand Cherokee up and down the roads next to the same red arches that appear in their ads. Not to be outdone, where do you suppose Humvee would want to market their SUVs? Maybe they'd want to emphasize their military connection and market their vehicles in one of our many war memorials. I'm sure there would be wide-spread excitement at the site of Humvees lined up to greet folks on the path to the Vietnam Memorial.

Our national parks were not intended to be used as a tool for marketing agencies. And, while the Scion promotion may have been a one-time event, it creates a precedent that others can use as justification for the next commercial promotion. A line has been crossed, and that is bad for the parks.


Public lands are frequently used for commercial activities but they are generally limited to those that contribute to management objectives for an area. I don't work for NPS and am not up to date on their commercial activity permit policy and process, but I'm having a tough time figuring out how lining Scions up and down Alcatraz Island furthers management objectives.

ARGH! Who approved this? I don't like imports to begin with, but imports being sold in a national park is like two stabs in the back..... :(

I should write someone a letter.

President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

Be concerned. Golden Gate NRA is the park that other NPS superintendents, looking for income-generating ideas, hold up as THE paragon of private-public partnerships. And those superintendents that do watch Golden Gate, do not have their park's best interests in mind.

I wrote letters to my Senators and Congressman - wonder what sort of reply I'll get. I wanted to write the super, but if I applied for a job there after school and someone remembered my nastygram, that wouldn't be too good...

President, CHS SPEAK (CHS Students Promoting Environmental Action & Knowledge)
Founder and President, CHS Campus Greens

I wouldn't worry about it. First, you probably wouldn't want to apply to work for people who "remember nastygram"s, and you certainly don't want to stop speaking your mind because someone might remember. Fear is a powerful tool used to keep people in line (see Washington Post 4-part series this week on Cheney as evidence). The best way to get Congress or authority to listen begins with refusing to be afraid and learning to organize to deal with the consequences. Any job where you are forced to tow the line on things important enough to you in order to keep it is definitely not worth it--no matter how influential it is or how close it is to your dreams. If you can't get that park job you dreamed about as a result of your beliefs, it's time to change a world that makes that happen. In the meantime, keep agitating.

Keep speaking out; I don't recommend to Congress necessarily, but speak out, let those chips fall as they may, and see what can be done with that - but don't sell out just to be part of a world where you will be punished for speaking truth with conviction, no matter how nasty that truth is.

Jim Macdonald
The Magic of Yellowstone
Yellowstone Newspaper
Jim's Eclectic World

Jr. Ranger:
Read some great books written by Edward Abbey (former NPS ranger and now deceased). May those books inspire you to stick your values!

One more example of the current administration's push to put everything under the control of business. If you think the government-run parks are messy, you should try it when corporations - who you can't vote out and have no motives but profit - get in control. The NPS is not a place for business interests... it's bad enough we have to wrangle with concessions to do what's good for the parks.

The selling of Alcatraz for... wait, what was the gain here?... for... no, really, I can't think of a single benefit to the park or the people. It blurs the whole idea of protection and preservation and mocks a century of purpose.

Shame on the administrators who approved this!

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