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Idaho’s state parks system is looking for corporate sponsors for signs, brochures, group picnic shelters and the like, as part of its effort to make the parks system largely pay for itself.

“We would hope to be able to acknowledge their donations on signage, printed materials and so forth,” Parks Director David Langhorst told lawmakers this morning. “While this kind of activity isn’t prohibited in state code, it isn’t expressly allowed.”

The Spokesmen-Review reported that at the suggestion of the Idaho Attorney General’s office, the parks department will be proposing legislation this year to specifically authorize such arrangements.

“We’ve got a goal for $20,000 the first year,” Langhorst told the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee in the department’s annual budget presentation. Already, he said, Airstream Inc. is working with the state to produce a 50th Anniversary Idaho State Parks-model trailer in the coming year; $500 from each sale would go to the department, and the trailer’s interior would be decorated in a theme tied to Idaho’s parks.

“We’ve been trying to be creative,” Langhorst said. “There are many companies that really like parks, and they see some value in partnering with us.”

He pointed to precedents in public higher education in Idaho, like Nike swooshes on college sports players’ uniforms and Boise State University’s Albertson Stadium and Taco Bell Arena. But Langhorst said the program would not include selling naming rights to Idaho’s 30 state parks. “The park names are pretty historic,” he said.

He noted that in Montana, Subway has underwritten TV ads promoting state parks.

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