NPS extends public comment period for potential fee increase at 17 parks

Hopi Point at the Grand Canyon.

Photo by Williams-Grand Canyon News.

Hopi Point at the Grand Canyon.

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service has extended the public comment periods for proposed peak-season entrance fees at 17 national parks and revised fees for road-based commercial tours and will accept comments until Dec. 22, 2017. If implemented, the increased fees would generate needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks.

The deadline, originally scheduled for Nov. 23, have been extended to accommodate interest in this issue from members of Congress and the public. Already, more than 65,000 comments have been received on the proposals.

Under the proposal, peak-season entrance fees would be established at 17 highly visited national parks. The peak season for each park would include its busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation. The peak season entrance fee for a seven-day pass to each park would be $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person on bike or foot. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.  

The cost of the annual America the Beautiful — the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, including all national parks for a one-year period, would remain $80. 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 proposed new fee structure would be implemented at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks with peak season starting May 1, 2018; in Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks with peak season starting on June 1, 2018; and in Joshua Tree National Park as soon as practicable in 2018.

Estimates suggest that the peak season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. The funds would be used to improve roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other amenities which enhance the visitor experience. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80 percent of entrance fees remain in the park where they are collected. The other 20 percent of the revenue is distributed to other national parks.

The public comment period for proposed entry and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators has also been extended until Dec. 22.

The public can comment period on the peak-season entrance fee proposal until Dec. 22, 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.

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