Back Country A Blog by David Sedore

They are our heritage, symbols of America. They belong to all of us. But if the Trump administration gets its way, it’s going to be a lot more expensive for us to visit them.

For some, maybe too expensive.

We’re talking about our national parks. The Trump administration under Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is proposing to more than double the entrance fees at 17 national parks, including Yellowstone, Grand Canyon and Yosemite. The cost of driving a car into these parks would increase to $70 from $30. The cost of walking or biking in would increase to $30 per person from $10. The increased fees would go into effect in 2018.

Rates at South Florida’s three national parks — Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas — are not affected. There is no entrance fee for Biscayne.

The hiked fees would raise $70 million, and would be used to provide much needed maintenance, according to Zinke.

There’s little argument that the parks could use more money — by one estimate we’ve seen, there are as much as $12 billion in deferred maintenance projects within the park system. But Trump is proposing to cut the National Park Service budget by about $379 million.

Simply put, justifying huge fee increases on the basis of maintenance needs while at the same time severely cutting the NPS budget is just plain nuts. Beyond that, it’s simply undemocratic. These are our parks after all, created for all of us, not just the wealthy. Making them financially off limits for many families is antithetical to the public purpose of the parks.

The rate increase would cover the five prime months to visit the parks — mid spring into mid fall for most. But for families, the summer months are the only time of the year they can visit. And really, for practical purposes, places like Yellowstone are pretty much inaccessible the rest of the year.

This summer, my wife and I visited two of the targeted parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone. They are places of stunning beauty. They touch one's soul in away few places on earth can. They are priceless places that need to be preserved and protected — and experienced. But you can't if you can't get in. The National Park Service is taking comments on the proposed fee hikes through Nov. 23. Click here to comment.

The full list of affect parks: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah and Joshua Tree National Park.

 

Trump administration moves to raise national park fees
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