It was with holiday hopes that I looked at the letter my business just received from Arches National Park: Perhaps the plan to end popular private guided tours of the Fiery Furnace – put “on hold” by the park and called “shortsighted” by Congressman Chaffetz, who further admonished “expanding these programs, not restricting them” and “this decision needs to be reversed immediately” – was changed to accommodate long-offered input from local businesses. It’s not as if the increasing demand the park cites is a sudden thing – concern was noted in 2010 by its concession specialist; perhaps the administration decided to utilize one of many existing National Park Service systems that address high demand activities.
Sadly, I found the plan hadn’t changed. The letter told me that my company still has 23 marked front country trails to guide on in Arches; apparently, only the one place everyone wants a guide to visit is excluded. All outside input was ignored – just as the small concerns that led to this being an issue were ignored for years, validating my long-standing perception that local businesses are treated as adversaries, not partners. My business isn’t the only one that is being harmed by inept management: The entire climbing community has been blocked out without an updated plan for a decade now.
It is time for the park to change management from someone who treats our business community with such disregard to someone who understands that local businesses are both important partners and stewards of our nation’s finest gems.