When I became aware of the controversy over the ownership of historic names at Yosemite like the Ahwahnee Hotel, Curry Village and potentially the name of “Yosemite” itself, I felt betrayed and outraged.
As a park commissioner for our county since 1991, this unfortunate situation is a wake-up call that all of our county, state and national parks, monuments and historic place names should be permanently protected for the public by the trademark process. Without that protection, what stops the concessionaire of hot dogs or hotel rooms of claiming ownership of the park itself? I understand very few names are currently protected.
I encourage the National Park Service and its legal counsel to do three things:
1. Define a reasonable value, and settle with Delaware North.
2. Immediately file for trademark protection for all of the national parks’ names, monuments and historic places.
3. Develop legal contracts that clearly retain park, monument and historic names as property of the American people, the National Park Service or appropriate designee, and that do not, in any way, under any circumstances, transfer those names to the ownership of the concessionaire.
It is the responsibility of the National Park Service to protect and preserve our parks, and to provide exemplary stewardship and promote public enjoyment of these places. Protecting their historic names for future generations should be a given.
Pandora Nash-Karner, Los Osos