Statement on Zinke's Extreme Price Hike at our National Parks

The president of the Shenandoah National Park Trust, Susan Sherman, anxious the fee increase would discourage people from visiting.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the guy who took a $12,000 charter flight to Montana at taxpayers' expense on a plane owned by oil and gas executives, has proposed doubling entrance fees at 17 national parks, making a visit to the Grand Tetons more expensive than the Louvre. The higher fees would apply only during the five busiest consecutive months for parks.

The affected parks would include Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier National Park in Washington, as well as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Denali, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Zion, Arcadia, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah and Joshua Tree.

The public comment period will be open until November 23.

Each park will continue to keep 80 percent of the entrance fees it brings in, under the terms of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act. That backlog accounts for projects across the National Park Service, which operates 59 national parks throughout the country - among hundreds of other sites - and nine in California alone, more than in any other state.

Fee increases are also being proposed for commercial tour buses.

For instance, Zion National Park's proposal of a reservation system could help alleviate numbers and could be an option for many other overcrowded parks during their peak seasons.

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The $70 fee is part of a rate structure that would also charge $50 per motorcycle and $30 per person on bike or foot. Annual passes are available for parks nationwide, and discounts are available for military members, fourth-graders, seniors and volunteers.

Belcher said 80 percent of fees are retained by individual parks, with the remainder going into a national pool for distribution to parks across the country.

During that time period, the entry fee would increase from the current $25 to $70 per vehicle.

The National Park Service (NPS) announced it would almost double the fees to enter popular parks to help pay for infrastructure improvements. Those sites, which stretch from Denali in Alaska to Acadia in ME, generate 70 percent of all park entrance fees. An annual pass costs $40 and can be used by four people, according to the park service.

"We do have some concerns about pricing out lower income families and people so we're hoping we can discuss those concerns and come to a good resolution", Monch said. "That is a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in Fiscal Year 2016".

The move "would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks", including roads, campgrounds and visitor centers, NPS said in a release Tuesday.

"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?"

  • Adam Floyd