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Trump Interior Dept. Proposes Steep Fee Hike For National Parks
“This land is your land, this land is my land,” Woody Guthrie once sang. But if Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gets his way, we’ll all be paying a lot more to enjoy the scenic lands that belong to We the People.
The National Park Service announced on Tuesday that it plans to raise peak season admission fees to 17 parks in some cases to more than twice the current price. Fees at such popular parks as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and others would jump from $10 or $15 per person to $30, beginning May 1, 2018. Per vehicle rates, currently $25 or $30 for private vehicles, will leap to $70.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said Zinke in the announcement. An estimated $11.3 billion is needed to repair roads, trails, bridges, campgrounds, rest rooms, ranger stations and other features and facilities. The new fees are expected to add $70 million per year to revenues from the parks. Meanwhile the the Trump administration’s budget wants to cut park service funding by $296.6 million and reduce its staff by 1,242 workers.
Opposition was immediate from national park advocates. “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,” said National Parks Conservation Association President and CEO Theresa Pierno.”The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.”
“The enormity of the increases exceeds any increases in the history of the National Park Service,” said Maureen Finnerty, Chairperson of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “Fees alone are not the answer to the budget problems. At a time when there is record visitation in our National Parks, there should be adequate financial support by the Administration and the Congress.”
The Park Service will be taking public comment on its website here or by mail to November 23. A Care2 petition against the fee hikes that states “we think our public lands are for everyone – not just those that can afford to [pay] these excessive new fees” had gathered more than 7,000 signatures as of Thursday.