Park Backer Touts Corporate Sponsorships
Jeff Shoemaker assures residents that a proposed corporate sponsorship program for Colorado State Parks is not "going to be a NASCAR-ing or a billboard-ing of our state parks."
"It's not going to be Meineke Mufflers State Park of St. Vrain," he said at a public meeting in Fort Collins, Colo., on Tuesday (July 31).
Instead, his nonprofit, the Foundation for Colorado State Parks, wants to partner with businesses and brands that meet the character and values of state parks and market them together in more subtle and tasteful ways to raise money for the 42 parks in the state, according to the Loveland Reporter-Herald.
- A health care or fitness business may sponsor an event in the park such as lessons in setting up tents or adventure races.
- A company could sponsor a beautiful viewing vista complete with a smart phone application to tell parks users what they are about to see.
- Local stores could sell the "official trail snack" of Colorado State Parks.
- A recycling company may pay for an ecological message wrapped around trash bins.
- A soundtrack of background music for park activities may be sold online.
Shoemaker believes the concept is unique, but has the potential for success.
"Safe is for sissies," he said.
Instead, he wants to step outside the box and find new ways to raise money for state parks — a goal he believes is achievable if Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the state legislature and the governor sign off.
"We're hopeful of solid six-figure if not seven-figure impact," he said.
But it's not about being money hungry.
Instead, it is about supporting the state's 42 state parks and keeping them open and affordable for residents to enjoy the great outdoors across the state.
The state recreation areas are self-sustaining on grants and user fees, and while they are operating in the black, they need to make sure they have enough money in the future to keep the facilities up and improving.
Fort Collins resident Carole Hossan, one of three residents at the meeting, said she is alarmed by the idea of corporate sponsorships, even if they are marketed in stores and online and not plastered in the parks.
"I go to parks to get away from all that," she said. "The idea of sponsors and names attached to things, that puts me off frankly."
Resident Wayne Boyles said he shares her concern but also understands the concept could work as long as there is separation, sponsor names are not attached to trails and the corporate presence is not overt in the parks.
"There needs to be a strong firewall between any corporate interests and what's happening in the park," Boyles said.
Shoemaker assured the residents that his foundation is an advocate for the state parks and dedicated to keeping them open and beautiful.
"I don't know what perfect is, but what we're going to do is try to find that balance between tasteful and beneficial," he said. "What we're going to try to do is do this carefully and tastefully."
The concept will go up for approval in the fall and, if approved, could begin in 2013.
For more information or to comment on the concept, visit the Foundation for Colorado State Parks website at www.thefcsp.org.