National Park Service Announces Park Entrance Fee Increases

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"Federal law requires that 80 percent of revenue generated at a national park remains where it is collected".

The increases, which will add up to tens of dollars more per visit, are being called "modest" by the NPS after U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke back off his plan to more than double some park entry fees.

The increases will not affect any national parks here in Humboldt County, and the NPS says that more than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter.

Starting June 1, the park entrance fee will go from $25 to $30 per vehicle, from $12 to $20 per motorcycle and from $12 to $15 per person on foot or bicycle.

With these public comments in mind, the National Park Service reduced its proposed fee hike and spread it to all 117 sites, rather than the 17 most popular parks. For Shenandoah, 80 percent of the fees are devoted to spending that supports visitors to it, while the rest of the money goes to help other national parks with their own projects.

In addition to the increased fees, the Park Service will continue "enhancing public-private partnerships aimed at rebuilding national parks" and pursuing legislation to address the maintenance backlog.

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National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the past five years.

Examples of some of the projects undertaken over the previous year include trail improvements on the Pumice Flat Trail, Annie Creek Loop Trail, Lady of the Woods Trail, and others; improvements to the Cleetwood Cove Parking Lot; control of invasive plants in popular visitor areas; and replacement of snow poles along Highway 62.

Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, said she was glad Zinke "abandoned his reckless plan to nearly triple park fees on American families", but said the new plan lacks transparency or a full analysis of the impact fee hikes will have on park visitation and local economies. "I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal". An annual park pass will cost $70.

Beginning June 1, the park entrance fee will be $30 per vehicle (up from $25), or $25 per motorcycle (up from $20), for a one-week pass. Maintenance deferred on these facilities amounts to an $11.6 billion nationwide backlog. "This is just one of the ways we are carrying out our commitment to ensure that national parks remain world class destinations that provide an excellent value for families from all income levels".

The fee schedule announced Thursday sets a $5 increase for all parks that charge entrance fees. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million. Instead, there is a bipartisan proposal to pay for park maintenance through unallocated onshore and offshore mineral royalties; that proposal would increase the Park Service's budget by an estimated $500 million a year.

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