PRESS RELEASE: US NATIONAL PARKS BENEFITS SHARING PLAN A MONEY LOSER
- Dear Friends,
About two weeks ago the US National Parks Service (NPS) issued a 600+
page Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on bioprospecting and
"benefits-sharing" in the US national parks. For us, this amounted to a
last chapter in our fight against bioprospecting in the national parks.
Basically, we learned that the bioprospecting - commercial and
otherwise - has been going on in US national parks for years and the
only thing "new" was the very faulty "benefits sharing" plan NPS was
offering. Attached below is our press release about the proposed
benefits-sharing plan and a pdf of the letter we sent to the director
of the National Park Service.
I am not attaching the pdf for the FEIS. It is way too large. But if
you'd like it, let me know and I will send it to you.
Although there are many things wrong with the FEIS, the commenting
process is over. With the FEIS, the NPS has technically fulfilled the
judge's requirements from our long-ago Yellowstone court case.
Once the "benefits sharing" plan is okayed by the head of the NPS, it
will move into implementation. Thus, we felt, a letter to the head of
the NPS was in order.
To the more than 9,000 people and organizations who made comment to NPS
three years ago about "Parks Not for Sale", we send our thanks. You
thousands helped make a national discussion out of what began as a
secret deal. We'll be contacting some of you soon about further
actions. (Oh no, it's not over. Only Phase One is over.)
20319-92nd Avenue West
Edmonds, Washington 98020
phone: (001) 425-775-5383
* * * * * * * * * *
For Immediate Release: Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Contact: Kirsten Stade [PEER] (202) 265-7337, Beth Burrows [Edmonds
Institute] (425) 775-5383, Michael Garrity [Alliance for Wild
Rockies] (406) 459-5936, George Nickas
[WildernessWatch] (406) 728-5733, George Kimbrell
[ICTA] (415) 826-2770
PARK "BENEFITS" SHARING PLAN WILL BE A MONEY-LOSER
Secret Corporate Royalty Plans Force Parks to Eat High Administrative
Washington, DC - A pending scheme for profit-sharing with those who
extract and make money from organisms taken from the national parks has
crippling problems, according to a critique issued today by the Edmonds
Institute, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER),
Alliance for Wild Rockies, International Center for Technology
Assessment (ICTA), and Wilderness Watch. The "Benefits-Sharing" plan
will cost the National Park Service (NPS) more money than it raises,
prove utterly impractical to operate, and compromise both resource
protection and ethical principles.
Under the plan, awaiting final approval from NPS Director Jon Jarvis,
any of the nearly 400 national parks could enter into a
"benefits-sharing agreement" with a "research collaborator" for
monetary or in-kind compensation for any profits derived from park
resources. In order to maximize revenue, the agency and its "preferred
alternative B2" - hereafter referred to as B2 - allows those with whom
NPS makes B2-like deals to keep royalty and/or other financial terms
shielded from public or Congressional review.
Noting that NPS has other and better ways of gaining benefits for the
parks, the objecting groups argue that the B2 plan, which has been in
the works since 2001, has big drawbacks for national parks and the
taxpayers, including -
• Meager financial returns more than offset by high administrative and
technical assistance costs, all of which would come out of the Park
• Corporate revenues earmarked for the park that was home to the
original resource and superintendents facing uncomfortable choices
between protecting resources from exploitation and maximizing their
particular park's income; and
• Public backlash and loss of NPS reputation over allowing the
financial nitty-gritty of "benefits sharing" to be kept from public and
"This is a full employment plan for consultants on the taxpayer's
dime," stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. "Rather than
supporting research or conservation programs, national parks will lose
net revenue under this plan for a least a decade - and might never turn
Much of the interest in the "benefits sharing" plan revolves around
"bioprospecting" - particularly research derived from microorganisms
drawn from unique park settings, such as geysers. At Yellowstone
National Park, a bioprospecting benefit-sharing agreement resulted in
considerable consultant and administrative costs ($359,000 over two
years, according to records obtained by PEER under the Freedom of
Information Act). The cost of that deal exceeded the "mid-range"
estimate for system-wide revenue that NPS projects from all such
agreements after five years under its "preferred" B2 plan.
"At the start of all this, we wondered whether NPS plans were legal,"
said Beth Burrows, head of the Edmonds Institute, lead plaintiff in the
suit that forced public examination of the original Yellowstone
bioprospecting arrangement. "Now we wonder, whether they are wise or
even smart. No one loves a business park."
Read the groups' letter to NPS Director Jarvis: