Did Bill Clinton turn over US National Parks to the United Nations?

I was at dinner last night a group of people who insisted that the UN has control over the US state parks thanks to Bill Clinton. My Google Fu is pretty good and I can’t find any credible source but before I call bullshit I’d like to ask the teaming masses.

Is there even a grain of truth to this? I suffered through bits of an Alex Jones 2 hour youtube where he makes this claim based on Executive Order 12986 - International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources
January 18, 1996

What’s the straight dope?

There doesn’t seem to be even a grain of truth to it.

Try googling “Clinton world heritage site”. Basically, the UN maintains a list of notable natural and man-made locations around the world - World Heritage Sites. Several US national parks and other locations are on the list - the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc. During Clinton’s presidency, there was a minor kerfuffle over how much control the UN has over those sites, as opposed to the US government. There’s plenty of websites out there describing it, ranging from “No big deal” to “US sovereignty no longer exists inside any World Heritage site”. I suspect that’s what your group was referring to.

There are some claims that a reasonable and well read person should really not even have to bother looking up, and this is one of them.

Well one (and in fact the only) enforcable aspect of being a world heritage site is (partial) protection from being a target in war.

So The upshot is that the Russkies cannot (legally) nuke Yellowstone national park.

Some national parks have been subcontracted to private concessionaires, to administer visitor activitiy, such as parking, trash collection, campground maintenance, etc… and in retyrn, the get to collect the use fees. They operate them as if they are the owners. The private concessionaires even refuse to honor Golden Access cards, and refuse to admit holders of such cards unless the daily fee is paid, to which cardholders are supposed to be exempt…

It is possible that some of these private concessionaires are foreign-owned interests. It is the federal government’s way of contracting with the American people, and then reneging on the contract.

I’d say this is generally right, but calling it a minor kerfluffle of how much control the UN has over parks is being waaaaay too generous to one side of that ridiculous debate.

In no meaningful way is there any element of UN control, power, administration, policing, regulation, or other dominion over roughly 1,000 World Heritage Sites around the world. The designation boils down to, using my own words, three things: 1) a simple recognition that a site has historical or cultural significance, 2) specific protection from bombardment during war, 3) the UN may make statements (and really not much more) at various times if the host country should do additional things to protect the site.

On the last one, examples of this include UNESCO telling China its opinion that having karaoke bars and massage parlors right next door to ancient ruins is not in keeping with the idea of preserving the history or significance of the site. If a conflict like that cannot be resolved by local authorities, UNESCO in truly extraordinary circumstances may simply remove the site from its list – they don’t get to send in UN cops to clean up the place.

So, yeah, there’s literally no issue with having places designated as World Heritage Sites.

To clarify, I agree with everything Ravenman said. I was merely referring to an event during Clinton’s presidency, involving the UN and a US National Park, which was blown way out of proportion by anti-UN and anti-Clinton groups at the time and is quite possibly what the OP’s friends were talking about.

Nitpick: At least in the US, “state parks” are distinct from “national parks.”

Yeah, that was my mistake, thanks.
I did intend to say National Parks.

One other example: The section of the Elbe Valley in and near the city of Dresden, Germany, was acknowledged a World Heritage site in 2004. After planning and construction of a road bridge over the valley went forward, UNESCO first put the site on the ‘endangered heritage sites’ list in 2006, and finally struck the site from the list in 2009.

The prospect of the loss of World Heritage status definitely was an issue in the regional political debate over building the bridge, but ultimately state and city decided to go ahead and chose infrastructure over World heritage prestige. There never was a question of UNESCO doing anything else than revoking World Heritage status.

I’ve never heard of an entire national park being completely turned over to a concessionaire. Usually it’s something much simpler, like a contract to run a lodge within the park, or a contract to provide food services within the park.

The largest concessionaires, Xanterra, Delaware North Corp., and Aramark are run out of Colorado, New York, and Pennsylvania respectively.

You can look at a full list of concessionaires here. The nonsense someone spouted to the OP should really just be called out as the conspiracy theory it is without dancing around.

But neither can the US so they’ve ceded *some *sovereignty.

The text of the Executive Order is here. The order extends sovereign immunity to the IUCN, in the same manner as any number of other international NGOs (including the UN). The IUCN is not an organ of the UN - it is a wholly separate organization, though it is recognized by the UN and has UN observer status. Other similarly-protected organizations include the Vatican, the Red Cross, and Interpol. Nothing in the order has anything to do with national parks.

I wonder, with Yellowstone being an active Super Volcano if a sufficiently powerful nuke set off there might set off an eruption and thus might be a way to take out a large portion of north America without needing to use a lot of missiles.

I initially read the thread title as “Did Bill Clinton turn over Rosa Parks to the United Nations?”

And it’s true. She still wanders the halls over there like poor old Charlie of the M.T.A.

But not not post here! :slight_smile:

Respecting the laws of war is not a matter of sovereignty. The USA would also be legally obliged to respect the Geneva Conventions regarding the treatment of wounded persons in war if someone invaded the USA; that doesn’t constitute a concession of sovereignty.

I has it happen to me twice, and I entered into correspondence with my congressman about it, and he dug deeply into it, and gave me the explanation I stated upthread.

The two in question were both designated as National Recreation Areas (as I recall), which are administered by the National Parks, and included in the facilities in which Golden Access privileges would normally apply. One in Colorado and one in South Carolina. It’s been ten years, I can’t recall exactly which ones. In both cases, entry requires a “parking fee”.

When one visits a national or state park, one has no way of knowing whether the administrative agency has subcontracted the hands-on visitor facilities to a private firm. Most, if not early all visitor facilities in National Forests are in the hands of private subcontractors.

Previous thread.

Anyone here remember James Watt, Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan, who wanted to sell off national parkland to lumber & mining companies?