WASHINGTON -- Lawmakers and environmentalists praised a new agreement yesterday that will result in a non-profit group's buying the Yosemite Park and Curry Co., but they questioned the way the deal came about and the future of other national park concessionaires.
Curry runs hotels and other concessions at Yosemite National Park.When its parent company, MCA Inc., was sold for $6.6 billion to a Japanese conglomerate, Interior Secretary Manuel Lujan Jr. and others objected to foreign ownership of a national park concessionaire.
Under an agreement signed Tuesday night, the National Park Foundation will take over the company for $49.5 million Sept. 30, 1993. The foundation will then donate the company's facilities to the National Park
Service, and the lucrative Yosemite concessions contract will be opened up for public bidding.
Some of the most important questions about the deal remain unanswered, and the prospects are high for continued congressional scrutiny of businesses in national parks.
"There is no threat of foreign ownership of our national parks," said Representative Mike Synar, D-Okla. "The real issue is that conces
sions contracts themselves create and protect enormous profit with little of it returned to the federal treasury or the national parks."
Mr. Synar will introduce comprehensive legislation today or tomorrow that would increase tenfold the average franchise fees paid by park concessionaires, shorten contracts to five years and make other changes in the way about 500 national park concession contracts are managed.