National Park fee increase

In the past two weeks I have been through Zion and Bryce National Parks and enjoyed the justly famous canyons, hoodoos, and rock formations.

In a week’s time, I will be in Canyonlands and again enjoy this magical area.

All striking places that may become less accessible to.a portion of the public by default.

The entrance fees of the parks are slated to double or even triple during peak season. Along with others.

With a backlog of nearly 12 billion dollars in NPS  units something must be done of course.

But with corporate sponsorship of parks looming, privatization of campgrounds offering more so-called services, and now the proposed increased entrance fees, I see both the egalitarian and wild nature of the parks decreasing more.

The cynic in me sees the fee increases as part of a plan to further make the NPS seem incompetent . Incompetent meaning that it can’t manage its own house even with fee increases. Further opening up our public lands to potentional increased corporate management.

Fees will go up even more so especially  as more “amenities” are introduced. And since the backcountry of the parks probably won’t be used by the more affluent consumer base who enjoys these amenities, what’s a little drilling where people don’t go anyway?  After all,  we do need to pay for these amenities and the financial backlog…

Except we have invested what is approaching half a trillion on the  Ford Edsel of fighter jets and a suspicious amount of money has gone to a Montana construction company based out of the same town  as Zinke.

Some money does appear to be there. Apparently.

Wild spaces just do not have the pork barrel spending potential and lobbyists as the weapons and energy industry.

The Trump Administration may rival Grant’s as the most Plutocratic term of office yet.

Our country will weather this storm, too.

I just hope the storm passes before the parks turn even more into Disney World for a smaller and more affluent part of society.

Tip of the day: Assuming the fees go up for NPS units, the $80 Interagency Pass good for NPS, BLM, USFS, National Wildlife Refuges, and others is even more of a bargain. Considering purchasing this pass if you visit an NPS unit more than twice a year.  People over sixty-two, permanently disabled, in the 4th grade, or in the military are eligible for a reduced cost or even a  free version of this pass.

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Misti
2 years ago

I would assume that it would be likely that that $80 pass would go up too, maybe to $120? It would make sense if the other fees go up. I’m going to play devil’s advocate for a second because no one is mentioning this: that current $25 is good for a week for the entire car. So, assume just one person is in a car that’s only $3.5 bucks a day but let’s pretend a typical car is loaded with five people, that’s only 0.71 cents a person per day. At one local state park here in Texas entrance fees… Read more »

Mike B
Mike B
2 years ago
Reply to  Misti

I first started hiking just to hike right after graduating from college. You can break it down anyway you want to, but I wouldn’t have been willing to pay that kind of fee when I was fresh out of college. More to the point will be the coming increase to the year-long pass, and I have no doubts it will be coming. Some sort of golden ticket pass for these popular parks and a lower tier for the rest.

Aaron
Aaron
2 years ago

I’m fed up with all the grumping about the fee increase. Folks certainly have money to blow on all sorts of luxuries & creature comforts. But when it comes to supporting their outdoor adventures and activities it’s too expensive….really? I’d be curious to know what percentage of a person’s annual “entertainment” budget is dedicated to park fees, both state and federal. Even with the proposed fee increase I’d bet it’s a small fraction of what is spent on dining, drinking, traveling, partying, etc. It’s all about perspective and priorities.

Marshall Wilson
Marshall Wilson
2 years ago

If the parks are PERCEIVED as unaffordable, visits will drop. The more unassociated people feel with the parks, the less political support parks will have. The less political support they have, the more likely they can be sold to the highest bidder. It seems the current trend in government is to reward the wealthy at the expense of the middle class and poor. Putting the parks further out of reach and failing to fund them is disappointing at best. The entire deferrred maintenance backlog is paultry in comparison to the budget.

Kevin
Kevin
2 years ago

I think it’s worth remembering that many people were forcefully removed from their land so that national parks could be created- for the benefit of all. I get the argument that $70 for a carload for a week is a good deal, compared to places like Disney world. But how many people actually visit a single park for a week, beyond middle-upper class families? For myself, a typical visit to a national park involves a day hike by myself or with one or two others- at $70 that’s a pretty expensive day hike. Heck, even $25 is an expensive day… Read more »

shawn
shawn
2 years ago

Thanks for starting this discussion here, Paul. I keep meaning to comment on the official DOI website, but I’m sure they will cherry-pick the comments that support their position. Here are some of my concerns about the fee changes: – it will keep away some people who can’t afford it, and deter others who can. (Just last night my wife decided not to watch a movie with me online because it was $2.99; I almost laughed, but it is a good reminder that cost does affect behavior.) – the fact that many commenters compare the cost to Disney re-enforces my… Read more »

Dale Matson
2 years ago

Some could argue that increasing park fees will reduce overcrowding. Yosemite Valley near me is an example to too many people in too small a space.http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/article160640879.html I went once this past summer mid week to take a short hike to Vernal Falls for photographs. I was lucky to eventually find a place to park. The shuttle buses to the trailhead were packed and after two passed me by at the bus stop, I walked to the trailhead. Additionally, Yosemite has managed fires and “let burns” that fill the valley with smoke most of the summer in addition to campfires. This… Read more »

Shadow76
Shadow76
2 years ago

In past years I’ve found the annual pass a bargain. However with day/week rates approaching the cost of the annual, I predict more folks will choose the annual for economic reasons, thereby resulting in an overall decline in revenue.

Jim Austin
Jim Austin
2 years ago

Let’s get real here. If it wasn’t for the 2016 election results we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Trump and the Republicans are trying to find as many places in the budget to de-fund or drastically cut back funding so they can proceed with their real agenda — tax relief mostly for those at the top and for corporations that will NOT use their tax savings to hire more workers or treat them fairly but to give them more $$$ to invest in things like leveraged buyouts. The new Trump budget cuts hundreds of millions from the NPS. These fee… Read more »

shawn
shawn
2 years ago
Reply to  Jim Austin

This problem / discussion has been a long time coming, though I certainly agree that Trump and his admin have forced it to the front burner. I haven’t actually seen the DOI or NPS budget for 2018 (have you?) so I can’t comment on just how much was slashed. Our local paper had an editorial that said entrance fees amounted to $70M last year; I was surprised that it was so low. I agree we should all try to fight against the entrance fee increases, but it seems to be much more important to fight for sufficient funding to cover… Read more »

Not A Bear
Not A Bear
2 years ago

I have to say, in principle, I’m not opposed to these fee increases. All you need to do is walk through The Narrows in Zion, hit the traffic jam in Arches, ride the shuttle in RMNP, or visit Abram Falls in the Smokies to realize that our parks are slammed with people. Talk to anyone who works in the parks, and they’ll tell you that the parks are scrambling to deal with increases in usage creating environmental impacts, degrading visitor experience, and increasing maintenance costs (like emptying pit toilets and rebuilding eroded trails). There are simply too many people visiting… Read more »

Not A Bear
Not A Bear
2 years ago
Reply to  Paul Mags

I mean, two things… The first is that increases in funding would increase our parks’ ability to handle more users. I honestly don’t think this is the case. Talking with friends who work in the park service, these most popular parks where the fee increases are being imposed are absolutely swamped. You could build more privys and ramp up shuttle frequency, but at the end of the day the land itself has to handle the impact. A dirt trail can only take so much traffic before it turns into a landslide where the critical edge breaks down, or turns 20′… Read more »

daooch
daooch
2 years ago

For those that are wondering about the respective budgets of those federal agencies responsible for the management of our natural lands (and if you’re not then you need to start), the White House 2018 budget proposal calls for Dept of Int budget to be slashed by 11%. This includes similar budget cuts for the NPS at 13%, the USFWS at 14%, the BLM at 13%, and the USGS at 15%. All that is in addition to cutting down the Dept of Agri budget by 21%, which in turn includes a 10% budget cut to the USFS, and cutting the EPA’s… Read more »