No, America’s National Parks Are Not for Sale

Field of yellow flowers with the sun setting behind snow-speckled mountains
– Anand Soundarajan, Share the Experience

On Huffington Post, National Park Foundation President Will Shafroth shares a Q&A with National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis about national parks and corporate partners. 

Below, you will find the additional information that the Huffington Post Q&A references.

What are the primary updates to Director’s Order 21?

The proposed updates expand and clarify existing donor recognition guidance.

  1. Incorporates National Park System Donor Acknowledgement (PL 113-360, Section 3054) provisions
  2. Authorized placement of donor recognition
    • On or inside a visitor center or administrative facility or any other appropriate location, such as on a donor recognition wall or plaque
    • In an area outside of a visitor center or administrative facility, including a bench, brick, pathway, area of landscaping, or plaza.
    • Near a park construction or restoration project, if the donation relates directly to the project
    • On a NPS vehicle, if the donation relates directly to the vehicle
    • On printed, digital, and media platforms, including brochures or websites
    • In ancillary structure associated with a commemorative work or as part of a manmade landscape feature at a commemorative work in conformance with NPS or GSA donor recognition guidelines.
  3. Permits temporary naming of interior spaces to recognize donations for the renovation of an existing facility or construction of a new facility. Duration of naming is 5 years.
    • Permits use of paving stones, benches, and other furnishings for targeted recognition, not mass appeals (must be identified and approved in existing donor recognition plans) – for the life of the paver or fixture, or a specified time period, whichever comes first.
    • Temporary naming of programs, positions, and endowments (naming)
    • Updated guidance for donor recognition in digital media

What are the policies that govern donor recognition?

Philanthropy and donor recognition in national parks are governed by a variety of laws and policies:

  1. Director’s Order #21 provides the policies and procedures to serve as the framework for NPS employees’ conduct in relation to donation activities and fundraising campaigns that benefit the NPS.
  2. The National Park System Donor Acknowledgement provisions in PL 113-291 (2015) prohibit:
    • recognition of the donor or any product or service of the donor as an official sponsor, or any similar form of recognition, of the National Park Service or the National Park System;
    • a National Park Service endorsement of the donor or any product or service of the donor;
    • naming rights to any unit of the National Park System or a National Park System facility, including a visitor center
    • the use of an advertising or marketing slogan, or a statement or credit promoting or opposing a political candidate or issue.
  3. The Commemorative Works Act (40 USC 8901-8909) and Title I, Section 145 of Public Law 108-108 contains special requirements for donor recognition at national parks in the District of Columbia and its environs.
  4. Departmental Policy, Part 374 Employee Responsibilities and Conduct defines Departmental policy for donation acceptance, use, recognition, and solicitation, in a manner that promotes Department programs, operations and activities. 

New donor recognition tools include:

  1. use of paving stones, benches, and other furnishings for targeted recognition,
  2. temporary naming (5 years) of interior spaces to recognize donations for the renovation of an existing facility or construction of a new facility.
  3. temporary naming of programs, positions, and endowments to acknowledge major support,
  4. use of logos in credit lines on interpretive media (exhibits, waysides) 
  5. use of logos in credit lines on vehicles (if related to the vehicle)

What are the guidelines for sponsor logos, outlined in Director’s Order 53?

The NPS may recognize event sponsors as long as corporate names are not used in a way that would imply or suggest NPS endorsement of a product, service, or company, or be construed as commercial solicitation or advertising. Sponsors of these events may be recognized by limited use of their logos and name script on event facilities, signs, and in literature associated with the event. The size, scale, scope, and location of corporate logos and name script should not dominate the event facilities or area. The NPS will not permit the appearance of advertising and marketing slogans and taglines. The purpose of recognition is simply to acknowledge the sponsor.

Guidance to parks provided in training on special event permitting provides this rule of thumb: any lettering or design identifying the sponsor shall be no larger than one-third the size of the lettering or design identifying the special event.  This language tracks the language in Public Law 108-108 Title I, Section 145.

Last updated May 27, 2016.


Hello National Parks, I am interested in learning about your donor recognition tools (specifically benches). Do you have a link (or a PDF) that details the process and costs to provide a bench at a National Park/campground? My mother loved camping at Timothy Lake (in Oregon) and, now that she has passed away, we thought it may be a nice way to provide a lasting remembrance for her and also help with the campground at the lake. Thank you for your time and assistance. Best Regards, Steve
Hi Steve, thank you for the question. We would recommend reaching out the specific park itself to see what is possible and the details of that process.
I am a FB Group Admin for Friends of Glacier National Park. Just last night a long-time friend and our group Ambassador for the GNP passed away. We would love to be able to memorialize her with a park bench. Being told this can't be done. Is there anything you can do help this great lady's contributions to the park? Thanks
Hi Marshall, very sorry to hear about your loss. The park itself is the best contact for park specific questions, and we would recommend reaching out to them directly. You can find their contact info here: Hope this helps.

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