Vince Smith
An article in the Post-Dispatch reports that the National Park Service is considering converting the St. Louis treasure that is Grant's Farm into a national park. One of the great things about Grant's Farm is that it is run privately by Anheuser-Busch, Inc., and the Busch family, at no cost to taxpayers. The park has been run for 55 years without charging an entrance fee, all while losing $3.5 to $4 million annually.

It is not clear who approached whom with the proposition to make Grant's Farm a national park, but one can only hope it was not the National Park Service. The budget for our national parks is already strapped, and the lack of funds is evidenced by deteriorating infrastructure. The last thing needed is to add one more park to be maintained with public funds. Furthermore, the growing national debt makes it unlikely that the NPS will be receiving a significant increase in funding in the near future.

I believe Grant's Farm has the potential to become sustainable if it were to charge an entrance fee. The 273-acre animal preserve is visited by 550,000 people a year, more than enough demand to allow the parks owners to cover costs — or even turn a profit, if management operates the park efficiently.

I hope the Busch family and Anheuser-Busch continue to run Grant's Farm, even if that means charging an entrance fee. Grant's Farm provides a unique experience that will be lost if it falls under government control.

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