Bob Schott is a retired DEP biologist and a friend and colleague. He wrote a letter to the editor about an interaction he had with a legislator. You can read it at:
A couple of years ago I wrote an op-ed piece for the Harrisburg Patriot News and actually received pushback. I include it here in case you missed it the first time around.
We routinely watch the Penguins play at Consol Energy Center, the Pirates play at PNC Park and the Phillies play baseball at Citizens Bank Park. The Steelers are at Heinz Field and the Eagles are at Lincoln Financial Field. Even our own Harrisburg Senators, play at Metro Bank Park. There are stadiums and arenas scattered across Pennsylvania that bear corporate names. Many of these venues have been paid for, at least in part, with public money. And so with tongue planted firmly in cheek I offer the following suggestions to alleviate the Pennsylvania budget deficit.
The idea is to sell the naming rights to streams, lakes, rivers and ponds. Virtually all public surface waters would be up for bid. There could be a two-fold effect here. The state would receive a much needed boost in revenue and the companies who pasted their name on the body of water might actually take some ownership and protect it a little bit more than if it just had some Native American name with a lot of mis-arranged vowels and consonants.
There are 124,183 stream segments in Pennsylvania according to the PSU, PASDA geographic information system (GIS) data. Even if all the unnamed tributaries are removed from consideration that still leaves 52,567 stream segments that could have their naming rights sold to the highest bidder. The cost could be based on the length and flow of the segment. Considering today’s GIS technology that’s a relatively simple thing to do.
Let’s start with the most obvious name first. The Chesapeake Bay could be renamed the Chesapeake Energy Bay. Of course the naming fee – hopefully in the billions- would have to be divvied up between Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia, and I suppose the feds would want their chunk of change too but it could provide funds to clean up the bay.
Next the Susquehanna River could be changed to Range River and the Monongahela River to Consol River. This has huge benefits not only to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania but also to students all across Pennsylvania, who no longer have to learn to spell those difficult, tongue twisting words. The Youghiogheny and Kiskiminetas would no longer confuse computer spell checkers after they become the Exxon and the Shell rivers. The often mispronounced and frequently misspelled Schuylkill River could become the Sunoco River. With these simple changes students could spend less time studying giving them more time for jobs (and paying taxes on the money they earn). Teachers could spend less time doing lesson plans and correcting papers, thereby allowing more time for more students thus increasing class size, meaning less teachers are needed and school budgets get reduced. See there are spinoff benefits everywhere.
Lakes are great for this plan and fit right into the scheme. Lake Wallenpaupack, already owned by PPL could very simply become PPL Lake. Just think of all the ink that would save when vacationers send home postcards. Okay, so nobody does that anymore, but imagine how much easier that is to text and tweet? The Fish and Boat Commission’s Leaser Lake would truly become Leased Lake, hardly a name change at all.
But why stop with bodies of water? State Forests and State Parks could be up for grabs as well. How about Promised Land State Park becoming the Smart Balance, Promise Spread State Park? Both the buttery-like spread and the park promote healthy living so it fits. Poe Paddy State Park could become Peppermint Paddy State Park where the dew drops off the cool green leaves, and Prince Gallitzin State Park could become Princess Cruises State Park, an alternative for potential customers who might get seasick on a boat.
We’re on a roll now. How about Sproul State Forest becoming Chief Resources State Forest? Bald Eagle State Forest could become Coots and Boots State Forest and Tiadaghton State Forest could change its name to the easier to pronounce Halliburton State Forest. Who would object?
And let’s not forget the transportation. The Pennsylvania Turnpike could become the Chrysler Turnpike, the Schuylkill Expressway could become the Mopar Expressway and why not I-Chevy instead of I-80?
With these few simple changes the Commonwealth of (insert name of highest bidder here) could be reaping millions, nay billions of badly needed dollars.
This was written a few years ago when the gas boom was going strong but it is still a viable option.
What’s next? How about the PGC having hunters pay a harvest fee when the get a deer? Considering the deer herd in Pennsylvania (where I hunt) they can expect it to generate $42.56, 3 cases of mis-matched returnable pop bottles and a set of partly worn re-caps.