A $70 fee might await you at Crater Lake, other National Parks

The National Park Service is considering tripling its per-person entrance fee in the summer for Denali National Park and Preserve in response to a major backlog in federal funding for park upkeep.

On Tuesday, the Interior Department proposed that simple fix, though it may sting: a price hike across 17 of the country's busiest parks during peak season.

The National Park Service is floating a steep increase to the entrance fee at Rocky Mountain National Park.

The increases would also create so-called "peak season" prices at the 17 parks, a five-month period during which per-person entrance fees would rise to $30, up from $10-$15 now, and per-vehicle fees would increase to $70, up from $25-$30.

The NPS is accepting public comment for the proposal through November 23.

The proposal would not affect several free weekends and holidays at parks throughout the year.

As Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in the press release, "The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration".

In fact, more than 4.5 million people visited the park this year, making it one of the most visited in the country.

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However, fee increases that were put in place at some parks in 2015 do not seem to have had a negative impact on the number of visitors.

The proposed price hike sparked immediate criticism from the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonpartisan group aimed at "protecting and enhancing America's National Park System for present and future generations".

It would cost an additional $30 for a motorcycle and $20 for an individual.

The $80 annual pass that permits entrance into all federal parks would keep the same price tag.

The administration says the higher fees are needed to tackle this backlog, which includes $105.5 million of deferred maintenance in Oregon at sites such as Crater Lake, Oregon Caves and John Day Fossil Beds.

The park service estimates that the increased fees would boost national park revenue by $70 million a year over the $200 million it collected in fiscal year 2016. At the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite and other parks, drivers now pay $30 per vehicle. An annual pass now costs $60. We should help give breaks to families who want to go on vacation, not companies who want to drill. The public can submit comments here. "The solution to our parks' fix needs can not and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors", Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement. Officials are proposing a jump from the average $25 to $30 entry, to $70 per person during the peak season.

"If people are priced out of that market, how long will that desire and dedication to preserving national parks be in the ethos of the American people?"

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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