February 22, 2018

National Park Service proposes peak season entrance fee at 17 national parks

27 October 2017, 12:18 | Rufus Hill

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It also wants to nearly triple the fees that visitors would have to pay to enter some of the most popular parks, including Olympic, Rainier, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Yosemite.

The National Park Service began seeking public comment Tuesday on the proposal, which would create a "peak season" fee of $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.

On Tuesday, the Interior Department proposed that simple fix, though it may sting: a price hike across 17 of the country's busiest parks during peak season. For Denali National Park, that would be defined as May 1 through September 30.

The NPS is accepting public comment for the proposal through November 23. "All CUA fees stay within the collecting park and would fund rehabilitation projects for buildings, facilities, parking lots, roads and wayside exhibits that would enhance the visitor experience".

The money is "badly needed", the agency says, and would be used for "improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks".

The peak season fees could raise national park revenue by $70 million per year, Zinke said. The proposed hike would also affect 16 other popular parks around the country. Those on foot or bicycle pay $10 to $15 for entry, that would increase to $30.

The $80 annual pass that permits entrance into all federal parks would keep the same price tag.

"It's hard enough just to pay for the gas and lodging and getting transportation let alone the steep fee getting into the park", says Allyson Khan, who has visited several national parks.

The admission fee to visit some of America's most popular national parks could skyrocket to $70 as officials look for ways to shore up funding to fix billions of dollars in aging infrastructure. Currently, Yellowstone charges $30 per vehicle, or $50 for Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

The park service said the fee increase, which would be applied during the parks' five busiest months, is necessary to address a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects.

The new fee schedule would establish a $70-per-car peak season fee for the parks. The cost of the annual America the attractive pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, would remain $80. "That is a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in Fiscal Year 2016".

"We do have some concerns about pricing out lower income families and people so we're hoping we can discuss those concerns and come to a good resolution", Monch said.

According to Rob Smith, Northwest Regional Director of National Parks Conservation Association: "For many people, this shuts off access at a time when we want to get people outdoors, and get people who haven't been coming to the parks to come".

In recent years, the parks' aging infrastructure has grown into a looming and massive problem.

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