In a blog posting, one of the Camp Loll organizers argues new rules set forth by the National Park Service forces nonprofits like the Boy Scouts of American to file for Commercial Use Authorization (CUA) permits the same as any other outside vendor wishing to do business within the Park. With the permitting system comes lots of new rules, mostly relating to access: backcountry access to landmarks like Union Falls, Scout Pool and Terrace Falls would be limited to 15 visitors (one guide and 14 clients) and shall be spaced at least ½ mile apart at all times. Other restrictions would basically limit Camp Loll presence in the Park to groups of 36.
Now, there’s a lot of rhetoric on the Camp Loll side of the issue, and we’re not so sure the Boy Scouts and the Camp Loll folks have all the facts on their side: there’s been a move to Commercial Use Authorization permits for nonprofits for years, as this 2005 testimony to Congress clearly indicates. And we’re pretty sure the Boy Scouts aren’t being singled out. But it’s a bad move by the Concessions Division to inform Camp Loll of these changes so close to the beginning of the 2010 season, and a strong argument could be made that the new restrictions on backcountry activity unfairly penalize a group working in a exemplary fashion to preserve and protect Yellowstone. Somewhere along the line a dialogue should have been launched; the fair move would be to suspend the 2010 rules, revert to 2009 rules and work out some sort of arrangement that suits the needs of all.
Photo of Bechler Falls courtesy of the National Park Service.