The public is encouraged to comment about the National Park Service's proposal to implement peak season entrance fees at 17 national parks. That generated concerns not only from park users, but businesses adjacent to the parks who depend on that summer traffic for their local economies.
The deadline was originally set for Thursday, but on Tuesday the comment period was extended to December 22. Written comments can be submitted to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, D.C. 20240. Through September this year, the park has had 3.86 million visitors.
"Although we respect the National Park Service's attempt to find solutions for the deferred maintenance backlog, raising entrance fees to this degree could unfairly burden the public and create new barriers to the visitors that you hope to reach and inspire", the senators wrote on November 14.
The National Park Service is also proposing entrance and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators.
If the fees are approved, the NPS estimates the increase could generate as much as $70 million.
"For the Trump administration to come out with an annual budget proposal to Congress and it having a 13 percent cut to our national parks, and then turn around and ask the people to pay more money to get into their national parks, is troubling", Douce stresses.
Douce says the price increase will mean many low-income families will no longer be able to afford to visit national treasures such as Yosemite, Yellowstone, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia and Kings Canyon and Zion national parks. Nationwide, national park deferred maintenance totals more than $11.3 billion.
The public comment period for the proposal expanded Tuesday to allow for another month of input, according to the Park Service website.