The Department of Interior is proposing entrance fee hikes at 17 popular national parks to address a massive backlog of deferred maintenance costs, which amounts to more than $11 billion.
These “peak season” hikes, seen by interior head Ryan Zinke as a necessity, would fund infrastructure projects within the parks themselves. According to the release, “this includes roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services.”
“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 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.” – Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior
National Parks included in the plan are Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks. The new fee model would generate $70 million more revenue annually, a 34% increase compared to 2016 numbers.
Leave a comment on the proposal here: Fact Sheet and Current and Proposed Fee Rates
While the entrance fees for a private vehicle would be elevated from $25-30 per vehicle to $70, the annual national parks pass would remain at $80 per person, encouraging visitors to pay $10 more bucks while also encouraging visitation at other parks. The NPS is also proposing increasing fees for commercial users.
In the meantime, some see this move as a headline grabber while DOI officials, including secretary Zinke try to rollback regulations on oil and gas development across federal lands, including along the Arctic Shelf and beyond.
Find the entire NPS release here: National Park Service Proposes Targeted Fee Increases at Parks to Address Maintenance Backlog