California AG Leads Coalition Opposing Entrance Fee Hikes at National Parks

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Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park Credits: Wikipedia

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra led a coalition that opposes the proposal to increase entrance fees at 17 national parks. The group is composed of 11 attorneys general (AGs).

In a letter to National Park Service (NPS) Acting Director Michael Reynolds, the AGs said the increase is “concerning as a matter of policy.”

According to them, many Americans will no longer be able to afford to visit and enjoy the beauty of the national parks.

Becerra and his colleagues wrote, “We cannot let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places only for the wealthy. As Americans, we are all public landowners. All Americans should have access to these lands…including inner city children, Hispanic-American, and African-American.”

NPS action is not consistent with laws governing national parks

Additionally, the AGs said, the NPS did not offer a reasonable explanation for the fee increases. It failed to provide economic analysis to support its claim that fee increases will boost revenues and reduce maintenance backlog. Its action is not consistent with the laws governing national parks.

Furthermore, they noted that its proposal did not address the impact on minority communities. The NPS also failed to provide any data regarding comparable fees charged by other public agencies and nearby private operators. It did not also consider the public policy or management objectives served by the recreation fee.

The AGs pointed out that the NPS “failed to adhere to the criteria set forth by Congress.” Instead of increasing fees, they recommended seeking adequate funding from Congress. They also encouraged the NPS to support bipartisan legislative proposals such as the National Parks Service Legacy Act.

Details of the NPS proposal

Last month, the NPS proposed a significant in entrance fees at 17 highly-visited national parks during the peak season. Its proposal covers the following:

  1. Acadia National Park (ACAD)
  2. Arches National Park (ARCH)
  3. Bryce Canyon National Park (BRCA)
  4. Canyonlands National Park (CANY)
  5. Denali National Park (DENA)
  6. Glacier National Park (GLAC)
  7. Grand Canyon National Park (GRCA)
  8. Grand Teton National Park (GRTE)
  9. Joshua Tree National Park (JOTR)
  10. Mount Rainier National Park (MORA)
  11. Rocky Mountain National Park (ROMO)
  12. Olympic National Park (OLYM)
  13. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park (SEKI)
  14. Shenandoah National Park (SHEN)
  15. Yellowstone National Park (YELL)
  16. Yosemite National Park (YOSE)
  17. Zion National Park (ZION)

Under the proposal, the entrance fees in these national parks will be doubled or tripled.

For example, the per vehicle entrance fee at Acadia, Olympic, Shenandoah, and Joshua Tree National Parks will increase from will increase from $25 to $70

The entrance fee for vehicles at Glacier, Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite National Park will be $70, up from $30.

The NPS will also raise the entrance fees for motorcycles to $50 and per bicycle/person on foot to $30.

On Monday, the NPS announced its decision to extend the public comment period for its proposal. It will accept comments until December 22, 2017.