Comment on National Parks Proposal to Increase Entrance Fees
In a recent press release, the National Park Service has announced a proposed peak season fee increase at 17 popular parks across the country, including Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks. Learn more and submit your comments by December 22.
In a press release this week, the National Park Service has proposed a peak season fee increase at 17 popular parks across the country, including Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks.
The steep increases are being proposed to help address growing backlog of maintenance across the parks. The deadline for public comment on the proposal is Dec. 22 (extended from the original Nov. 23 date).
What the proposal would do
During peak season, week-long entrance fees at the 17 selected parks will increase to $70 per private vehicle. That's almost three times the current rate of $25 to $30. The fee would also increase to $50 for motorcycles and $30 for cyclists and walk-ups. The increased fee would take effect from June 1 to October 31 in Mount Rainier, and May 1 to September 30 in the Olympics.
The Interagency Annual Pass (America the Beautiful) would remain $80, and will allow entrance to all federal lands, including national parks and monuments, for an entire year.
According to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke: "Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting."
The National Park Service estimates this fee increase would add an extra $70 million annually, a 34 percent increase from previous years.
The maintenance backlog
More Americans are visiting parks to enjoy the nation's natural treasures, but funding for these places hasn't kept up with demand for decades. Infrastructure improvements are needed on trails, roads, bridges, camps, bathrooms and visitor services.
Mount Rainier National Park alone is facing a $300 million maintenance backlog after years of underfunding. This represents just a portion of the $11.49 billion backlog in parks nationwide, according to a report released by the National Park Service last year. Olympic National Park faces similar challenges with $140 million in deferred maintenance. (National Forest and other federal lands are in the same boat.)
Will the proposal be good for hikers?
WTA is currently reviewing the proposal.
- While we would like to see the maintenance backlog reduced in our national parks, we are very concerned with such a drastic increase in fees and the potential negative impacts towards equitable access. We are committed to equitable access, and believe this fee hike will make it harder for some trail users to visit these public lands.
- We believe the best way for the maintenance backlog to be reduced is through the support of Congress in appropriating more funding to our treasured public lands, not through the proposed entry fee increase. In fact, a bipartisan bill already exists to fix the maintenance backlog - National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017.
The National Park Service has invited the public to comment on the proposed fee increases. The deadline to comment is December 22, 2017. Tell the National Park Service to reject this proposal to limit access to our public parks.
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