The Trump administration just proposed massive fee increases in 17 national parks — increases that could see entrance fees jump from $25 to $70. And they’re only giving the public 30 days to comment.
The administration claims this fee hike will help address the $11.3 billion maintenance backlog in national parks, but Interior Secretary Zinke estimates that the new fees could raise around $70 million annually. That’s just a tiny fraction of the maintenance backlog! The solution to the parks’ repair needs should fall to Congress, and cannot and should not be shouldered by its visitors. There is a bill, the National Park Service Legacy Act (S. 751 and HR 2584), pending in Congress that addresses the National Park Service maintenance backlog and it deserves the Department of the Interior’s support. This bipartisan legislation would provide a more substantial — and sustainable — investment in our parks. They could also use revenue from oil, gas, coal and other mining revenues and/or extend the Land and Water Conservation Fund to allow off shore oil and gases lease revenue to help maintain public lands.
Finally, the Administration is also considering to reduce NPS annual budget from $400 million to $300 million, which will further reduce America’s commitment to our precious National Park System.