Its Official: US Forest Service Closing over 1000 Privately-Funded Parks

The US Forest Service, under pressure apparently from the White House, has reversed both its historical precedent as well as its position yesterday and will close over 1000 public parks and campgrounds that are operated by private companies without using one dime of public money.  Why does the fact that our landlord the US Forest Service is going on an unpaid vacation mean that tenants of theirs have to close up shop too?  We have no idea.

This is how I explained it in my letter to my senators:

My company, based in North Phoenix, operates over 100 US Forest Service campgrounds and day use areas under concession contract. Yesterday, as in all past government shutdowns, the Department of Agriculture and US Forest Service confirmed we would stay open during the government shutdown. This makes total sense, since our operations are self-sufficient (we are fully funded by user fees at the gate), we get no federal funds, we employ no government workers on these sites, and we actually pay rent into the Treasury.

However, today, we have been told by senior member of the US Forest Service and Department of Agriculture that people “above the department”, which I presume means the White House, plan to order the Forest Service to needlessly and illegally close all private operations. I can only assume their intention is to artificially increase the cost of the shutdown as some sort of political ploy.

The point of the shutdown is to close non-essential operations that require Federal money and manpower to stay open. So why is the White House closing private operations that require no government money to keep open and actually pay a percentage of their gate revenues back to the Treasury? We are a tenant of the US Forest Service, and a tenant does not have to close his business just because his landlord goes on a vacation.


  1. Stirner:

    I presume you have some sort of lease agreement? This basically sounds like an illegal lockout of a renter by a landlord. Perhaps your local sheriff would also see it that way...

    I would also agree that you should sue them. Not for money, but just to hassle them. Be sure to file in small claims court, so you don't have to hire a lawyer, but you can force them to waste their time and resources having to respond.

    Of course, you have a business to run, so discretion may be the better part of valor from a commercial standpoint.

  2. Joe_Da:

    Small claims wont have jurisdiction for two reaons
    1) its a federal contract dealing with federal property
    2) the amount of controversy will exceed the small claims court juridiction
    3) additionally, the contract is with the legal entity owned by owner of the company which in most states, require an attorney, ie a corporation, LLC, LP can not file suit pro se.

    but the thought is well intended

  3. Not Sure:

    The government doesn't have enough money to keep things running as usual, so they are shutting down operations that generate income? Sounds about right.

  4. Matthew Slyfield:

    On your #3 it isn't generally done, because the values at issue are too low to justify it, but there is no explicit rule that you can't use an attorney in small claims.

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  6. Paulie:

    Keep them open regardless. NULLIFY. What can they do? Fire you? THAT will generate a court proceeding, for sure. BS government.

  7. HenryBowman419:

    Chicago politics in action....very typical.

  8. Joe_Da:

    Most states require an attorney to represent the party in the lawsuit if the party is anyone other than an individual. in other words if the entity is a corporation, a partnership, estate, trust, LLC ( a non - person), then an attorney must represent the entity, not the owner. This is true even in small claims court. (Not every state requires this, but most states)

  9. Jay Solo:

    I will be fascinated to see how the lawsuit against the government plays out over the next couple years.

  10. mahtso:

    Remind me again, is it Coke or Pepsi in the Whitehouse?

  11. mahtso:

    Given the blogger’s lack of respect for the law with regard to illegal immigrants, I assume he would have the same attitude with regard to breach of contract. (I have seen no evidence that there is a breach, but given your comment I assume you have such evidence.)

  12. thomaspainelives:

    What lack of respect? He posted his OPINION, which he has every right to do. He's not advocating that the illegals should be doing this right now. You really have comprehension problems. Funny also, can't find out anything about you by clicking on your name. You have something to hide?

  13. John O.:

    From a business standpoint that's a bad risk to take as they could have their contracts revoked and lose in court. Federal Claims Court tends to put considerable pressure on the party opposite the government and generally doesn't side with them just because. If the government orders them to cease for any reason they have to as the government has privileges that your typical commercial landlord doesn't get, the authority of badged officers.

    If he cooperates and closes he has grounds to sue for breach of contract if the lease allows him the freedom to operate at anytime without government interference. I hope he does force the issue through more appropriate channels.

  14. John O.:

    While this is for the most part true, the federal government has something that no other landlords get, badged officers. No cooperating with them can result in bigger problems. Another issue is that he can't just sue the federal court in any state court, it has to be in one of their courts and more importantly in they can only be sued for monetary damages in the US Court of Federal Claims. He can sue the federal government in any other federal court but its guaranteed to be motioned by the government to be transferred to the Court of Federal Claims when over $10,000, which means he's likely going to end up there anyways.

  15. MingoV:

    Obama got into hot water today when he told the U. S. National Park Service to shut down Old Faithful.

  16. mesaeconoguy:

    And, it's not such a great business practice to sue your key partner.

    So coyote is basically screwed here.

  17. Jaimie Park:

    Where are you getting this information? The website for the national forests within North Carolina is saying that concessioned campgrounds are still open, as are trails. It was lasted updated Oct. 1st. We also spoke with a ranger Oct. 1st who said trails would remain open.

  18. Nehemiah:

    Coyote wrote this on Wednesday and said that yesterday, that would be Tuesday, Oct 1st they were good to go as were the privately operated parks in NC apparently. Then on Wednesday word came down that they needed to close. I suspect the NC website will have been updated to that effect by now.

  19. Nehemiah:

    As we know that this attorney general will not hesitate to litigate against their political adversaries. It doesn't cost him anything to file a lawsuit, we foot that bill.

  20. ryan caldwell:

    because emergency services such as search and rescue should focus their efforts on these privately funded areas... rigght

  21. 66lima:

    Sad to say but doing any kind of business is like laying down with dogs. You get up with fleas.
    But in this case you get up smelling like a skunk since there is one in the white house. ( Not capitalized on purpose as long as he is in there.)