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MILLIONAIRE PARK CONCESSIONERS LOBBY TO KEEP SWEETHEART DEALS AS CONGRESS STRUGGLES WITH SPENDING CONTROLS

 WASHINGTON, March 8 /PRNewswire/ -- National park concessioners arrive in Washington today to lobby against concession reform legislation -- legislation to end the sweetheart deals that allow them to gross hundreds of millions of dollars each year while paying only a fraction of their revenues in franchise fees to the federal government.
 According to figures released today by the National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA), private concessioners in America's national parks earned $622 million in gross sales in 1991, but paid an average of just 2.9 percent back to the federal government in franchise fees. In 1990, concessioners grossed $564 million and paid about 2.5 percent in fees. By comparison, concessioners in state parks pay an average of 10 percent of their gross in fees. (A copy of the NPCA table on "millionaire" concessioners' revenues is available upon request.)
 "Given the unfunded needs of our national parks and the fiscal crisis we face, the sweetheart deals now held by concessioners border on the obscene," said Paul C. Pritchard, president of NPCA. "Both the Clinton administration and Congress are frantically looking for ways to cut unnecessary spending and increase revenues. Passage of concessions reform legislation would generate as much as $40 million in additional funds annually for the parks," he noted.
 Legislation introduced by Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-Ark.) would require concessioners to bid competitively for all contracts and would require that all concessions fees be spent on park programs. Under current law, concessioners receive a right of preference to renew their contracts, and fees are returned to the general treasury. "Right now, the system is rigged against other businesses who would like to compete for contracts. Without competition, the government will never receive the fees it deserves, nor will the public get the service they deserve," Pritchard stated. "All we want is for the concessioners to pay reasonable fees to help maintain the parks, which they use to gross millions every year. Is that too much to ask?"
 The National Parks and Conservation Association (NPCA) is America's only national non-profit citizen organization dedicated solely to preserving and protecting the U.S. National Park System. Founded in 1919, NPCA today has more than 350,000 members.
 -0- 3/8/93
 /CONTACT: Kathy Westra (ext. 121) or Bill Chandler (ext. 230) of the National Parks and Conservation Association, 202-223-6722/


CO: National Parks and Conservation Association ST: District of Columbia IN: ENV SU: LEG

KD-DC -- DC020 -- 4073 03/08/93 13:46 EST
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Date:Mar 8, 1993
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