Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke aims to renovate the infrastructure of our national parks by more than doubling admission fees at 17 of them.
Aging bridges, crumbling roads, disheveled bathrooms, and old campgrounds: America’s national parks have a maintenance backlog estimated at nearly $12 billion.
To address this, the National Park Service (NPS) proposed an increase in fees during “peak season” for 17 of the most popular national parks. It defines peak season as the busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation.
Public Comment Sought
The public can weigh in on the proposal during an open comment period. Comment online from October 24 to November 23, 2017.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a statement.
“We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same, if not better, experience than we have today,” he said.
Some groups have spoken out against the dramatic price hikes.
“The enormity of the increases exceeds any increases in the history of the National Park Service,” said Maureen Finnerty, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, which represents current and former parks employees. “We were shocked when we read the administration’s proposal. Fees alone are not the answer to the budget problems.”
However, the National Park Service noted that the White House’s proposed budget calls for $33.3 million in programmatic increases for construction, planning, and deferred maintenance at the parks.
How It Works: National Park Fee Increase
With the proposal implemented, estimates suggest national park revenue could increase by 34 percent, or $70 million, per year. In 2016, the NPS collected $200 million in revenue.
According to the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80 percent of entrance fees remain in the park where they’re collected. The other 20 percent is spent on projects in other parks.
The proposal would affect Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, and Joshua Tree National Parks.
In total, the fees amount to $70 for private, noncommercial vehicles, $50 for motorcycles, and $30 on foot or bike. Annual passes for the 17 affected parks are $75.
For further information, to see the public forum, or to submit a comment, check out the NPS Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website here.