Say NO To The National Park Fee Increase – Alternative Option

National Park Fee Increase

Hello my fellow outdoor enthusiasts! Recently the US proposed a fee increase to our National Parks. In my opinion, this increase is unreasonable. I think increasing the cost to these 17 National Parks will not increase the money coming in by a whole lot as many won’t be able to do the trip due to the extra money they now have to pay. I understand that they want to further care and preserve the parks for future generations but instead of increasing the cost of the park entrance and fees, maybe do an educational class as a requirement for everyone to be able to visit the park or increase the cost to all 118 fee charging National Parks. Here’s my thoughts on the issue.

About This New Increase

The National Park Service has decided to increase the fees for the park in hopes to address a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects. This increase will occur in 17 National Parks, mainly in the West of the United States. The National Park Service stated that these increased fees “would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks. This includes roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services.” They are also hoping that this increase of income will help further preserve the land.

I am all for caring for our land but to pay these outrageous prices to visit these parks is a little high, not just for me but for many explorers in our country.

This increase includes:

  • $70 per vehicle
  • $50 per motorcycle
  • $30 per person on bike or foot
  • A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.
  • $30 for a weekly pass
  • The hike is nearly tripled, from $25 to $70.

…just to point out a few.

Parks Affected By This Increase

  1. Acadia National Park (ACAD)
  2. Arches National Park (ARCH)
  3. Bryce Canyon National Park (BRCA)
  4. Canyonlands National Park (CANY)
  5. Denali National Park (DENA)
  6. Glacier National Park (GLAC)
  7. Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA)
  8. Grand Teton National Park (GRTE)
  9. Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR)
  10. Mount Rainier National Park (MORA)
  11. Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO)
  12. Olympic National Park (OLYM)
  13. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI)
  14. Shenandoah National Park (SHEN)
  15. Yellowstone National Park (YELL)
  16. Yosemite National Park (YOSE)
  17. Zion National Park (ZION)

According to the National Park Service, “Entrance fees are not charged to visitors under 16 years of age or holders of Senior, Military, Access, Volunteer, or Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes. The majority of national parks will remain free to enter; only 118 of 417 park sites charge an entrance fee, and the current proposal only raises fees at 17 fee-charging parks.”

You can view their fact sheet for more details.

Fact Sheet and Current and Proposed Fee Rates Spreadsheet

Comment Period

According to the National Park Service, “A public comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal will be open from October 24, 2017 to November 23, 2017, on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.”

It is time for us to speak up. Head on over to their website and leave a comment. Just follow the link here.

Alternative Plans

Plan 1

When my family and I lived on Oahu, Hawaii, we visited Hanauma Bay several times. Before going down to the bay we all had to watch an educational video. This video was focused on raising awareness on the critical issues of the bay. It also showed how to properly care for the park, rules and regulations, and proper care. We also learned about the history of the bay and how it came to be. I think that by doing something similar to this it will help keep the park clean and preserve it.

I know that if I learn more about the importance of the park and it’s history I also grow to appreciate it more. It encourages me to care for it, clean it, and cherish it’s beauty. It grows an emotional attachment in a way.

First timers can pay a fee to take this mandatory course and be signed up on a list. Breaking these rules and regulations will consist of banning from the park or in park community service depending on what rules they break. In order to take this ban off they will have to pay a larger fee and do a certain amount of park community service. Doing so will help these people appreciate the parks more.

I personally don’t think we all have to pay for what other people neglect to do, such as caring for our world. Many of us cherish the privilege we have to visit these beautiful parks. My family and I abide by the “Leave No Trace” and “Pack In Pack Out” outdoor enthusiast lifestyle and many of us will go to great lengths to continue to raise awareness on the subject.

Plan 2

Instead of increasing the cost so drastically on just 17 parks, why not increase the cost to all 118 parks at a smaller amount. Spread the increase throughout all 118 fee charging National Parks. I would much rather pay an extra $5 every time I visit a National Park then to pay an increase of almost $30 to $40  for some parks.

Or implement Plan 1 to all National Parks helping raise awareness on the importance of preservation of these lands. If you took the course in one park then you are already on the list for all 118 National Parks and can just take a very brief course specifically to that park at a much smaller cost.

Other Alternatives

I think we should try other options first before thinking of charging such a steep cost to those who love the great outdoors and actually care and preserve it. Raising awareness will have more of an impact then discouraging our public of even going to these parks by overcharging them. It will also help the parks do the repairs they need to do as well educate the visitors. The parks can even do fundraisers, pledge drives, gather donations, etc… to help reach any extra expenses that they may have for the year or even for any new plans for the park.

Pledge Drives

These National Parks can run a pledge drive through local radio stations, news channels, and even at the front ticket booths. This will help bring money in monthly from those who agree to donate $10, $20, $40, or even more a month to help the park financially. Many radio stations like KLOVE do pledge drives and are listener supported so I don’t see why a National Park can’t be partially supported by others who agree to donate monthly to them.

Fundraisers

Fundraisers are always fun. A park can always do something like, “Hike To Care” where everyone will pay a certain fee to hike the trails. I’m sure this will attract many bloggers, social media influencers, sponsors, and even the public to participate and assist with raising funds for the park. Obviously, if you implement plan 1, anyone that participates has to take the course prior to attending the event.

I’m sure many of these things have been done but these are some of the ways that National Parks can raise money. It will also keep the community active with events within the park.

My Family Plans

My family and I were planning on going to a few of these National Parks in the near future. As a family of 4 we were planning to drive as it is cheaper then flying and renting a car. The drive to the Grand Canyon is a good 25+ hour drive for us. Now having to pay this steep increase in park fees our trip is going to be much harder to plan and save up for. Just entering the park is $70 per vehicle. I don’t think it matters how beautiful the park is or the views but a family can’t afford to pay so much for one trip on top of all the other expenses such as gas, food, hotel stays, pet boarding, etc. especially when traveling across so many state lines just to reach one of these beautiful National Parks.

References

https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/10-24-2017-fee-changes-proposal.htm

https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/56757169/posts/11350445

My Comment To NPS

I have left a comment to the NPS about the issue and everything discussed on this blog post. Hopefully every one continues to provide feedback to this issue and we can come to an outcome that will make us all happy. Read my comment here.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

It’s your turn now. Head on over to the link below and let your voice be heard. Leave a comment with your own personal opinion on the issue. You have till November 23rd to leave your comment so hurry hurry hurry before you miss your window.

https://parkplanning.nps.gov/commentForm.cfm?documentID=83652

2 Replies to “Say NO To The National Park Fee Increase – Alternative Option”

  1. Thank you so much for taking action and leaving your comment for them, and I love some of the ideas presented here. I understand that in theory it could curb some of the overcrowding issues during peak seasons, however for some this could mean not visiting at all. It pains me to think that anybody wouldn’t be able afford to visit these beautiful sites, myself included. I like the idea of raising the fees sightly in more parks, however I do think that the parks on the list are the most visited, and most abused. I do see the benefits of them receiving more money, however if all parks were raising or charging an entrance fee then it could be redistributed from the larger pool to each park by necessity. So the parks with the larger attendance and upkeep costs would receive more. I am not sure how it is distributed now, or if each park is solely responsible for its own maintenance costs. It is just an idea and I know it isn’t perfect, but I have yet to find an answer that is. All I know is that I truly hope these wonderful places will remain open to the public, and not just those of a higher income bracket. And side note, I just wish everyone would watch educational videos anyway…

    1. I completely agree. I’m not sure if for high peak season they have a limit but if that’s such a huge issue then they can limit the entry. Say they receive 1,000 visitors but the park, to stay safe and in good standings, is recommended to only have 750 visitors. Then I think they shouldn’t allow more then what is permitted. and can even lower the number a little less just to play it safe. Overcharging people is not the way to do it (at least in my opinion). I think videos to raise awareness would work great. Haunama Bay looks beautiful and no one dares to even trash it cause they know they won’t be able to go back to visit if they break the rules or regulations. Also cause they learned the history and were able to do the extra struggle just to admire the beauty of the place that they tend to cherish it more then before. I also agree with distributing the money so the cost won’t be so high. Raising the cost to such a steep increase will only be pushing people out. You still want people to enjoy what God has created for us. There’s many other alternatives. Let’s just hope that I don’t find myself (and many others) missing out on some gorgeous parks due to this high increase in fees or pinching every single penny we can just to make our bucket list come to life. Thank you for reading and for commenting. Love your feedback and support on the issue. 🙂

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