On October 24th, the National Park Service announced that it was considering steep entry fee hikes for some of the United State’s most popular national parks. Destinations including the Grand Canyon, Mt. Denali, Yellowstone and 14 others might see their car entrance fees during peak seasons more than double– from $30 to $70– as early as January 1st, 2018.
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Fees for motorcycles would be bumped to $50, while walking and biking fees would be raised to $30. The National Park Service has opened a comment period to gauge public opinion about the entry fee hikes. This window will close on November 23rd.
The statement from National Park Service said: “Proposed peak season entrance fees and revised fees for road-based commercial tours would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks.” The statement noted that park waterlines, roads, bridges and bathrooms are in desperate need of repair.
The statement added that these fee hikes are estimated to bring in a total of $70 million per year (in 2016, the Park Service collected $200 million from 331 million visitors). It did not mention that the Trump administration recently proposed a $400 million cut– or 12% of the Park Service’s $2.85 billion budget– in his proposed tax plan.
The Washington Post reported that the Parks Service currently has an $11 billion backlog, but there are alternative options that would not burden park users.
They include the National Park Service Legacy Act, which would divert $12 billion from other sources, including gas and oil revenues.
The United States is world–famous for its National Park system, which just turned 100 last year. Young Americans visit the parks as students and older generations use them to exercise and reconnect with the natural world. It would be a tragedy if they were suddenly out of reach of many Americans because of fee hikes.
The National Park Service is currently accepting comments from the public and some US Senators are already asking that the proposal be withdrawn.
These are the parks that could be affected:
- Bryce Canyon
- Grand Canyon
- Grand Teton
- Sequoia & Kings Canyon
- Mount Rainier
- Rocky Mountain
- Joshua Tree
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