Park Service extends comment period for proposed fee hike

  • Park Service extends comment period for proposed fee hike

Park Service extends comment period for proposed fee hike

The National Park Service is planning on increasing fees during its busiest months, but has sought public comment on the matter.

State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, joined by 10 other attorneys general, said in a letter that the proposed increases "threaten to distance (Americans) from the places in which so many experience the natural wonder of our great and unique nation.We can not let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places only for the wealthy. All Americans should have access to these lands, especially communities that the Service's surveys show have often been underrepresented, including inner city children and Hispanic-American and African American populations", they said.

"We can not let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places only for the wealthy", the attorneys wrote in a letter on Wednesday to the acting director of the National Parks Service. Deferred maintenance at Glacier National Park totals more than $148 million.

Most of the 17 sites are in the west including Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand canyon and more.

For Glacier and Yellowstone national parks entrance fees for private non-commercial vehicles would more than double, going from $30 to $70. Motorcycle fees would rise to $50, while individual person/bike passes would rise to $30.

A bipartisan coalition of attorneys general on Wednesday called the Trump administration's plan to hike entry fees at national parks a "cruel deception", contending higher prices could force Americans to choose between "beauty and or bread".

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke introduced the proposal on October 24, saying the hike would be a boon to the park service's estimated $11.3 billion deferred-maintenance shortfall.

"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", Zinke said in a statement. "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 awesome destinations they are visiting". The plan is expected to generate an extra $70 million a year on top of the $200 million already collected every year from entrance fees. He argued the agency has not done the necessary outreach to those who could be affected, and slammed it for not undertaking an economic analysis, saying the fee increases are "unlikely" to achieve the stated objective of addressing deferred maintenance backlog.

Petitioners include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 10 other attorneys general of Arizona, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

The NPS argues a fee hike is needed to address the agency's maintenance backlog, valued at $12 billion. It is not known whether the same thing would happen if fees are raised again. The new deadline is December 22.