The National Park Service on Thursday unveiled slight increases of about $5 at all parks, a little more than a week after the U.S. Department of the Interior backed off plans to impose massive fee hikes at 17 of the most popular.
Starting June 1, prices will rise at the 117 sites that already collect fees, such as Arches, Badlands, Grand Canyon, and more. Those that do not collect fees will remain fee-free, according to a news release from the Outdoor Industry Association.
"After the Department of the Interior’s initial proposal to significantly raise national park fees at 17 specific parks, we saw strong concerns raised by the outdoor industry, the business community, local community leaders and individual Americans who love our parks,” said OIA Executive Director Amy Roberts. “This more modest increase shows that our voices made a positive difference toward today’s revised proposal to modestly increase fees."
More than 100,000 Americans voiced opposition to the proposed fee hike. The DOI and NPS decided that fees should be raised across all four types of fee-collecting parks, outlined below. But the America the Beautiful pass and Senior Pass will remain $80.
"I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal," said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a statement. "...This is just one of the ways we are carrying out our commitment to ensure that national parks remain world class destinations that provide an excellent value for families from all income levels.”
For a complete list of fees, visit the National Park Service website.
Commercial vehicles will see a fee increase starting in 2019.
Marc Berejka, REI’s director of government and community affairs, said in OIA's news release that the park service should be commended for listening to the people.
“REI Co-op and our millions of members across the country cherish the parks," Berejka said. "We will continue to work with the administration, Congress, and other stakeholders on holistic, long-term solutions to the maintenance backlog. These parks encompass some of the nation’s most iconic public lands. Like so many others who submitted comments, we want to assure our national parks are protected and open to all, both now and for future generations.”
In our own poll, 73 percent of our readers voted against the fee hikes.
Zinke originally wanted the extra funds from the fee hike to go toward park infrastructure improvements and fill in the $12 billion backlog of upgrades needed.
That's still the plan. According to OIA, at least 55 percent of the anticipated $60 million in revenue generated from the new increases will go to deferred maintenance in the parks. The remainder will contribute to enhancing the visitor experience and protecting park resources, and be distributed to parks that do not charge fees, but still need fixes.
The parks that are already undergoing local review of their fee structures will continue that process and catch up to the new tiered fee structure in January 2020, according to OIA.
Additionally, Zinke is working with Congress on proposed bipartisan legislation to use revenue generated from energy produced on federal lands and waters to establish a special fund within the Treasury specifically for “National Park Restoration."