The Interior Department Proposes Huge Hike in National Park Entry Fees

  • The Interior Department Proposes Huge Hike in National Park Entry Fees

The Interior Department Proposes Huge Hike in National Park Entry Fees

The agency proposed ramping up the entrance fee for a private vehicle to $70 during peak season, up from its current rate of $25 to $30.

Indeed, the Interior Department's 2018 overview says the budget "maintains $99.3 million for fix and rehabilitation projects, which address the deferred maintenance backlog, as well as $112.7 million for cyclic maintenance projects, which ensure maintenance is conducted in a timely fashion and does not become deferred".

"We need to have a 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", said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

But Zinke said the fee increase will help address parks' aging infrastructure.

The larger parks like Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Zion would go from $30 per auto, per week, to $70.

6 million people visited the Grand Canyon a year ago. On Tuesday, the Park Service opened a 30-day comment period on the price increase.

"The Trump administration is turning our National Parks into an exclusive playground for the rich", Schreiber said. Tim Kaine, D-Va.

The proposal created by National Park Service comes after realizing the need to improve roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services at the parks.

"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 wonderful destinations they are visiting", Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said. On top of that, Donald Trump's budget cuts reduce the National Park Service's funding by 13 percent, add another $30 million to deferred maintenance costs, and eliminate over 1,000 National Park Service jobs. The fee increases would take effect in 2018.

However, Will Shafroth, president and chief executive of the National Park Foundation, suggested that the price increases were reasonable for most Americans. Research has shown that entrance fees are associated with "significant but small" drops in park attendance. Transportation projects would receive 20 percent of the fund with the rest going to visitor facilities, employee housing, utility systems and other needs.

The proposal would not affect several free weekends and holidays.

And annual $80 passes for federal lands would not change, though fees would go up for pedestrians and motorcyclists.

The national parks, heralded by one former director as containing "the highest potentialities of national pride, national contentment, and national health", may soon be off-limits to many working American families due to price hikes that were proposed on Wednesday by Interior Sec.

"In 2015 and 2016, the National Park Service raised fees in over 100 parks throughout the country, many of which are being considered again for fee increases", said Emily Douce, budget and appropriations director for the National Parks Conservation Association, a pro-parks advocacy group.