Administration extends public comment period by one month.
WASHINGTON – The Trump Administration is extending its 30-day public comment period on its proposal to double or triple the entrance fees during peak visiting seasons at 17 national parks for another month. The fee proposal would increase fees as high as $70 at some of our most visited national parks like Yellowstone, Yosemite, Arches and Acadia.
The comment period, originally set to end on November 23rd, will now end on to December 22nd, according to the Park Service’s official comment page. The administration says the revenue generated from the increase will help pay for the Park Service’s $11.3 billion in needed park repairs, estimating the raised fees will generate $70 million per year. But that amount would address less than one percent of the backlog needs, and comes on the heels of the administration proposing the largest budget cut to the National Park Service since World War II.
Of additional concern, the administration’s rapid original 30-day comment period included no public hearings, leaving out the surrounding park communities that could see their economies suffer under higher entrance fees.
Over 100 parks currently charge entrance fees, which were modestly increased by the National Park Service in recent years after an extensive public process. If done appropriately, fees could be a part of the solution to address the backlog, a product largely from years of underfunding by Congress.
In April, a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate introduced the National Park Service Legacy Act, which would dedicate up to $500 million a year in existing federal revenues to address the backlog.
The following is a statement by Emily Douce, Director of Budget & Appropriations at National Parks Conservation Association:
“It is welcome news that the administration listened to the public’s call for more time for gateway communities and the American people to voice their opinions on the proposed fee increases. Our voices must be heard and we encourage the public to continue speaking out.
“Doubling and tripling park fees is not the answer to our parks’ fiscal challenges. Raising park fees to such a degree could limit families’ ability to enjoy our parks, harm local businesses and will not even keep the repair backlog from growing. The Department of the Interior should use this extended time to get out to these parks and listen to community members, elected officials and local businesses that would be most impacted by these fee hikes just as it did during the last major, but modest fee increase in over 100 parks.
“Our national parks belong to all of us, but the solution cannot be pricing some visitors out of them. American families should not be forced to pay today for what Congress and the administration have failed to do. Rather than put its energy behind an ill-conceived plan to rapidly increase fees, the administration needs to work with Congress on real solutions to our parks’ budget challenges, including increasing annual federal funding and passing the National Park Service Legacy Act.”
About National Parks Conservation Association
Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historic, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.
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