Mount Rushmore

  The Presidential Faces Of Mount Rushmore

 

Recently the Department of Interior National Park Service announced a proposed national park fee increase at 17 of our top National Parks in order to address the backlog of maintenance at our parks that now totals a whopping $11.3 billion. This increase is expected to raise $70 million dollars, with 80% of the increase staying within the park in which the money is raised while 20% will go to help other National Parks. This has stirred quite a controversy between those who would like to see our National Parks preserved and realize the importance of investing in their infrastructure and those who feel that many visitors might be priced out of admission to our national treasures.

Annual Pass Remains

The proposed fees, good for a one week visit, would be $70 per passenger vehicle, $50 for motorcycles, and $30 for individuals entering on foot or by bicycle. The current annual pass price would be increased $10, to $80, and would still be available. The annual pass is thus an obvious choice for any families who plan to vacation within the park system for more than one week or visit multiple venues despite the overall proposed national park fee increase.

National Parks That May Be Affected

Today only 118, out of 417 National Parks, charge entrance fees.  And among those only these 17 National Parks would be affected by the proposed increase in their admission fees:

Arcadia National Park;

Arches National Park;

Bryce Canyon National Park;

Canyon Lands National Park;

Denali National Park;

Glacier National Park;

Grand Canyon National Park;

Grand Teton National Park;

Joshua Tree National Park;

Mount Rainer National Park;

Olympic National Park;

Rocky Mountain National Park;

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park;

Shenandoah National Park;

Yellowstone National Park;

Yosemite National Park; and,

Zion National Park.

I live in Florida and when I compare the hundreds of dollars a family will need to spend per day at Disney World, to a $70 admission ticket for a National Park visit that can last an entire week, the $70 week long pass is an obvious bargain. The wonderment and the knowledge to be gained by a family from the adventures that are unique to our national parks simply cannot be compared to any theme park or any other vacation activities. That’s one way to see it.

I also see it the other way. Knowing how politics and our government bureaucracies work leads one to worry. Will the money raised actually be invested in our parks? Will it be spent wisely and not squandered? Will the bureaucrats come back and ask for more money next year? Is this the start of annual price increases to keep up with inflation? I have spent a great deal of time visiting our National Parks and I have directly experienced their ramshackle infrastructure.

It is true there is adesperate need to invest in our national treasures for the enjoyment of future generations. However, is this right way to do it? It concerns me that some folks may be priced out of our parks and I wonder if there are meaningful plans to address this. I believe our parks should be open and available to everyone. Isn’t that one of many reasons we pay taxes?

If the national park fee increase goes through will there be more money to support programs like Every Kid In A Park, which offers free passes to fourth graders and their families? https://www.everykidinapark.gov/  Our National Park Service also works hard with various communities around the country to encourage their members’ participation and  provide educational programs, taking many of these programs directly to communities in need. https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/communities.htm Will these programs benefit from the proposed funding increase? There are so many questions and so many ways to view this proposal.

Badlands South Dakota

  Somewhere In The South Dakota Badlands

Did you know that over 6 million people visited the Grand Canyon last year? Yellowstone National Park had over 4 million visitors. We had over 330 million people visit our National Parks last year. By comparison, visitors to Disney’s Florida theme park totaled about 20 million in 2016. That fact suggests to me that the national park system is getting a great deal of use indeed. Can there be any surprise that such heavy traffic has resulted in great wear and tear?

Recently the Department of Interior National Park Service announced a proposed national park fee increase at 17 of our top National Parks in order to address the backlog of maintenance at our parks that now total a whopping $11.3 billion. This increase is expected to raise $70 million dollars,with 80% of the increase staying within the park in which the money is raised while 20% will go to help other National Parks. This has stirred quite a controversy between those who would like to see our National Parks preserved and realize the importance of investing in their infrastructure and those who feel that many visitors might be priced out of admission to our national treasures.

Proposed Fee Structure

The proposed fees, good for one week, would be $70 per passenger vehicle, $50 for motorcycles, and $30 for individuals entering on foot or by bicycle.The annual pass price would be increased $10, to $80, and would still be available. The annual pass is thus an obvious choice for any family who plan to vacation within the park system for more than one week or visit multiple venues.

National Parks That May Be Affected

Today only 118, out of 417 National Parks, charge entrance fees.  And among those only these 17 National Parks would be affected by the proposed increase in their admission fees:

Arcadia National Park;

Arches National Park;

Bryce Canyon National Park;

Canyon Lands National Park;

Denali National Park;

Glacier National Park;

Grand Canyon National Park;

Grand Teton National Park;

Joshua Tree National Park;

Mount Rainer National Park;

Olympic National Park;

Rocky Mountain National Park;

Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park;

Shenandoah National Park;

Yellowstone National Park;

Yosemite National Park; and,

Zion National Park.

I live in Florida and when I compare the hundreds of dollars a family will need to spend per day at Disney World, to a $70 admission ticket to a National Park visit that can last an entire week, the $70 week long pass is an obvious bargain. The wonderment and the knowledge to be gained by a family from  the adventures that are unique to our national parks simply cannot be compared to any theme park or any other vacation activities. That’s one way to see it.

I also see it the other way. Knowing how politics and our government bureaucracies work leads one to worry. Will the money raised actually be invested in our parks? Will it be spent wisely and not squandered?Will the bureaucrats come back and ask for more money next year? Is this the start of annual price increases to keep up with inflation? I have spent a great deal of time visiting our National Parks and I have directly experienced the ramshackle infrastructure.

 It is true there is a desperate need to invest in our national treasures for the enjoyment of future generations.However, is this right way to do it? It concerns me that some folks may be priced out of our parks and I wonder if there are meaningful plans to address this. I believe our parks should be open and available to everyone. Isn’t that one of many reasons we pay taxes?

If the increase goes through will there be more money to support programs like Every Kid In A Park, which offers free passes to fourth graders and their families? https://www.everykidinapark.gov/  Our National Park Service also works hard with various communities around the country to encourage their members’ participation and  provide educational programs, taking many of these programs directly to communities in need. https://www.nps.gov/getinvolved/communities.htm Will these programs benefit from the proposed funding increase? There are so many questions and so many ways to view this proposal.

Did you know that over 6 million people visited the Grand Canyon last year? Yellow Stone National Park had over 4 million visitors. We had over 330 million people visited our National Parks last year. By comparison, visitors to Disney’s Florida theme park totaled about 20 million in 2016. That fact suggests to me that the national park system is getting a great deal of use indeed. Can there be any surprise that such heavy traffic has resulted in great wear and tear?