National park fees to skyrocket — Comment now or forget it

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    By Russ and Tiña De Maris

    National park fees to skyrocket -- Comment now or forget itThe calendar is quickly closing in on the last day to make comments on the National Park Service’s move to possibly jack up entry fees on some of the most popular parks in the U.S. In a move that Department of Interior Secretary Ron Zinke calls “targeted fee increases,” 17 parks would see entry fees skyrocket to $70 per carload of visitors during peak season.


    Which parks would see the fee hikes? Under the current plan, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting on May 1, 2018. Other parks include Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

    How much of a fee jump are we talking about? Presently, entrance fees at Grand Canyon are $25 per carload. Up the rate to $70, you’re looking at more than a 250 percent increase in fees. At Arches, your present $10 rate jumps a mere 600 percent.

    The Secretary assures such fee increases are necessary. “[These increases will] help ensure that they [the parks] are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting. We need to have the 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. Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”

    Have something to say? Your comments are welcome until November 23, 2017 [extended to December 22, 2017]. Visit the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, DC 20240.

    [Editor: For those of you leaving such thoughtful comments below this article, please be sure to pass along your comments to the PEPC where they, hopefully, will do some good. Thank you!]

    ##RVT819

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    John Springer

    Our wonderful government is raising entrance fees while simultaneously cutting the park service budget by $400M and ordering layoffs. They’re also raising funding for resource extraction (oil, gas, mining) from Federal lands.
    This is basically a move toward privatizing public lands because the billionaires have no use for them. If they get entrance fees high enough, maybe they can sell them to Disney.

    Jeri Doherty Lessley

    I have the senior pass. However, there are many young families who will not be able to see the Parks. All the entrance fees should be put back into the Park, where the fee was paid. Congress shouldn’t be able to spend the money elsewhere, as I think they can do now. Then there would be no need to raise the fees.

    CatK

    Dont forget that Seniors had a chance tho get a lifetime National Parks Pass for $10 by August 27 , 2017. This pass also lets you take in four guests! What a benefit!!!

    Gilbert Owens

    All this will accomplish is to “weed out” the poor people who do not feel they can afford the high price of entry to our National Parks that should be available to all folks. I understand the overcrowding problem the parks are dealing with but high-jacking the poor people is no way to solve the problem! Shame on the National Parks!

    Sherry Dawson

    I filled out a comment. I hope all RVTravel member do also. Here’s what I said:

    Please, please, please think of a more creative way to accomplish the maintenance upgrades! This will forever deny most of the middle and lower class Americans the joy and privilege of visiting our glorious national parks. Though I am currently protected by a lifetime disability access pass, I know I can’t count on that continuing benefit either. Were I younger and not disabled, I couldn’t afford one to visit our parks with these fees.

    Many of our national parks were originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. My father was employed in that amazing endeavor and was forever proud of the work he and his team did. He often took us to visit parks he had a hand in developing, and we came to appreciate his contribution as well. Why not consider something similar today? A modern CCC could be organized with out-of-work or underemployed Americans with skills or willingness to learn and work. Or staff it with young people who can’t or don’t attend college, but need to learn job skills. If done right, it would benefit the employees as much as it would the nation. President Trump has advocated job training programs for those not college bound. This seems like program he could embrace.

    If this idea is impractical, please get some of the smartest people President Trump says he has on his team to envision a solution that does not involve raising entrance fees! A step like this would likely mean that only rich Americans and foreign visitors could afford to visit these national treasures. Remember, we American taxpayers own them and already pay for their upkeep and staffing.

    Steve

    In the interest of honest journalism, please be ACCURATE with your story. These increases are proposed ONLY during peak season, and primarily as a way to smooth out demand a bit more evenly. A family will still be able to afford to visit if they can do so outside of the times when these specific parks are overcrowded (just like airlines charge more on their busiest days of the week, and hotels–AND RV PARKS–charge more during peak season. It helps to spread the demand, and as a nice side benefit, increases funding.

    Either you want to protect the parks from the damage of overcrowding, or you want cheap access at all times. You can’t have both…….

    By the way, the annual passes will still be $80, and they will still be valid at all parks at all times. Suddenly those would become an even better value……

    Dan Varcoe

    Please do not increase cost of accessing our country’s parks. If expenses are too high, eliminate some of them. The affordable access to these areas in their natural and rustic state is more authentic and appreciated than improvements, conveniences and added services that may cost more.
    The expense of getting there has increased, largely because of fuel tax; cost of living has increased at a higher rate than personal income. We are at risk of losing access to these places for the lower and middle income folks and making them reserves for the wealthy only. Don’t let it happen! Don’t get caught in the trap of continual improvement at any cost. When these parks were established they were attractive enough on their own to deserve special recognition and designation as National Parks and special retreats, we don’t need to enhance them further.

    Thank you for listening to the citizens you serve and not following some comprehensive plan that was designed by “Departments” or special interest groups including your own. These areas should be available to be enjoyed freely by all our people.

    Robbie

    National Parks have been underfunded for years. One of the issues is the way funds are distributed. The US Government in their wisdom, distributes funds by “sharing the bucket” rather than by usage.

    We were camp hosts at Arches, and found huge numbers of visitors, but few improvements because of no funds. The volume of traffic and the number of those without respect, added to the problems immensely.

    As a senior, we’re safe with out America The Beautiful discount card…..We’re pleased.

    Jim Bennett

    I,for one,welcome increases since many of these Parks are so crowded anymore,especially with foreign tourists,one can barely get around. Yellowstone has gotten so bad,one must almost have a lot of “yen” to get in.

    Jimmy Thomas

    Why play right into this monster’s hand by giving him what these monsters want. Recognician. You simpleton you made him out to be an ordinary guy who just had a bad day . I will never send another penny of support until you apologize for your gross ignorance in naming and picturing this satanic non-human.