“Non-profit organizations are improperly offering wedding, yoga and rental services at national parks, according to a recent audit, and bilking taxpayers in the process.
The National Park Service partners with nonprofits to run Residential Environmental Learning Centers (RELCs) on federal property to offer visitors educational services. The parks provide government resources such as buildings, staff and maintenance in exchange for “engaging environmental experiences for visitors and supporting the interpretive and education mission of the NPS,” according to the Interior Department’s inspector general.
While the agreements are meant to be limited in scope, many of the organizations stepped outside of those restrictions to offer high-dollar events and other activities. NatureBridge, the learning center at Olympic National Park, for example, offered weekend wedding packages with a $20,000 price tag. Other learning centers offered art and yoga programs that cost up to $365 per person. The organizations are prohibited from holding events from which they benefit on park lands, but many held fundraisers in government buildings.”