National Park Service Backs Down from Major Fee Increases
Thanks to an overwhelming response from hikers and trail advocates, the Department of Interior has backed off from a plan for steep National Park fee increases.
Thanks to an overwhelming response from hikers and trail advocates, the Department of Interior has backed off of a plan for steep fee increases at Olympic and Mount Rainier National Parks.
The agency had proposed more than doubling fees at popular parks last fall, but hikers and public lands advocates around the country—including about 2,000 WTA advocates—spoke up in opposition to the steep increases. Today the agency announced that the fee increases that will take effect later this summer are far more modest.
The wrong approach to a real problem
When the National Park Service proposed a peak season fee increase at 17 popular parks across the country last October, the agency suggested the steep increase would help address the growing backlog of maintenance across the parks.
The maintenance backlog is a real problem caused by decades of federal funding cuts: Mount Rainier faces a $175 million maintenance backlog and Olympic National Park has $120 million in deferred maintenance. Some fees are helpful to popular parks. But the real solution rests with Congress appropriating sufficient funding to our treasured public lands in the first place, passing a bill like the National Park Service Legacy Act of 2017.
The original plans would have spiked entrance fees up to $70 per private vehicle for a seven-day pass—almost three times the current rate of $25 to $30. A drastic fee increase would have likely put these public parks out of reach for many families—running counter to the very idea that everyone should have access to our public lands.
2018 Fee Changes to take effect June 1
After an outcry from hikers and others across the country, the agency changed its tune on a $70 entry fee. Rather than a dramatic price hike, most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will be increased by $5 and will be implemented in many parks beginning June 1, 2018.
Entrance fees to both Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks will be raised to $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will increase to $55. The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.
The modest fee increase is expected in increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million nationwide.
BECOME AN ADVOCATE FOR TRAILS
Be a part of the movement creating big wins for trails and public lands by subscribing to our Trail Action Network. We'll send alerts and updates about important issues that affect hikers where you can make your voice heard for public lands.