Fee increases proposed for Yellowstone, other top parks

by Ray Hunter October 27, 2017, 0:17
Fee increases proposed for Yellowstone, other top parks

The National Park Service is floating a steep increase to entrance fees at 17 of its most popular sites next year.

This approach would protect and enhance national parks' roles as economic engines - visitor spending supports an estimated 318,000 private sector jobs and $35 billion in economic activity, the bills' sponsors say- and it would create more jobs as parks maintenance is stepped up. Motorcycle fees would go up to $50, from the the current rate of $15 to $25.

June 1 to October 30: Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah.

Senator Tim Kaine says this will hurt Virginia families and tourism, saying "The Trump administration and congressional Republicans would rather shift these costs onto Americans, instead of covering maintenance costs in the budget".

If implemented, estimates suggest that the peak-season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year.

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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".

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Entrance fees at several national parks, including Yellowstone were raised in 2015 - they've remained the same since - but the price jump didn't seem to deter visitors. The fees would almost triple.

The new fee schedule would establish a $70-per-car peak season fee for the parks.

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

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The 17 highly-visited national parks that would see their entrance fee for a single, non-commercial vehicle increase to $70 for their busiest five month contiguous period are: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah and Joshua Tree. Revenue would be used to restore and improve facilities, infrastructure and visitor services, with an emphasis on deferred maintenance projects.

At Denali, which has only a per-person fee, that would rise from the current $10 to $30 peak season, $12 off season.

A public comment period in regards to the proposed peak season fee is now open until November 23, 2017. Mail written comments to: National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240. Open the document and use the "Comment Now" button.

Under the proposal, permit fees for tour operators would also be adjusted up at the 17 parks. By law, 80 percent of park fees must be spent at the park where they are collected. The fees will also cover the administrative costs of receiving, reviewing, and processing CUA applications and required reports.

"Given the scale of the backlog, fees alone can not be the answer to this enormous challenge", the National Parks Conversation Association said in a statement Tuesday.

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