Wednesday, 22 November, 2017

National park-goers react to proposed fee increase

Steve Nehf The Denver PostA herd of elk get up close and provide Steve Nehf The Denver PostA herd of elk get up close and provide
Lillian Steele | 28 October, 2017, 01:09

Opponents say the proposal, which would raise entrance fees for part of the year at Yosemite and 16 other popular parks to $70 from $25 or $30 per vehicle, will price out visitors and deny many the opportunity to experience the nation's most coveted landmarks, from the Grand Canyon to Mount Denali to Old Faithful.

The proposal would increase the entrance fee to 17 national parks to $70 per vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person.

The cost of the annual America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, including parks for a one-year period, would remain $80.

The new fee structure would be limited to each park's peak season, its busiest five months.

A 30-day public comment period opened Tuesday.

The higher cost may keep some visitors away, but it's not clear how the new fee increases will affect overall park attendance.

Theresa Pierno, the CEO of advocacy group National Parks Conservation Association, told CNN on Wednesday: "The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs".

Many are condemning the proposal, saying that it's likely to backfire and would result in lower revenue for the parks, who are already contending with a reduced budget. The 17 parks that would be impacted collect 70-percent of the revenue of the national park system.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement that "the infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration".

"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 unbelievable destinations they are visiting", Sec.

"We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places - protected for all Americans to experience - unaffordable for some families to visit", she said. Prime real estate to catch park-goers passing through.

"It creates so many more problems they haven't thought through", he said.

"We're doing the best that we can to monitor maintenance.to prioritize to fix what needs to be fixed most", he said.

Phil Padilla took this photo while traveling on Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park on September 26. In fact, since fees began going up in 2015, park attendance has been on the rise, setting new records at several parks around the country. National Park Service officials said the cuts would lead to service reductions for visitors and increase the workload of its employees.

Pass holders - such as the America the attractive national parks and federal recreational lands pass or senior pass - would not be affected by the fee hike.

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