Joshua Tree is one that is targeted
The National Park Service is proposing to establish peak-season entrance fees for the 17 most-visited parks. A public comment period, which ends Nov. 23, is now open.
In Southern California, the fee for one vehicle to enter Joshua Tree National Park between Jan. 1 and May 31 will almost triple from $25 to $70. During the other seven months, the vehicle-entry fee will remain at $25. For individuals not in a vehicle, the fee will increase from $12 per person to $30. Entrance fees for motorcycles and the annual pass also will increase. Each motorcycle would cost $50. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.
The added revenue, estimated to total about $70 million, will be used for maintenance. The NPS press release said 80 percent of fee collections remain with the park budget, where collected, the other 20 percent will be allocated across the system.
Funding from the fees is used from any project consistent with NPS goals and mission, although emphasis is on deferred maintenance, according to the NPS release.
The president’s budget submission for fiscal year 2018 — Oct 1, 2017, through Sept. 30, 2018 — requests a decrease in park-maintenance funding and a slight increase in park construction.
NPS also emphasized that only 118 NPS sites, out of 417 nationwide, charge any fee. Entrance fees are not charged to visitors under age 16 or holders of senior, military, access, volunteer or Every Kid in a Park passes.
Individuals who wish to submit their comments electronically, should visit
https://parkplanning.nps.gov/document.cfm?parkID=442&projectID=75576&documentID=83652 or send comments to NPS Planning Environment and Public Comment, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail stop:2346, Washington, D.C. 20240.
NPS also is proposing entry and permit fee adjustments for commercial tour operators. The proposal would increase entry fees for commercial operators and standardize commercial-use authorization requirements for road-based commercial tours.
Following the NPS announcement last week, Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association, issued the following statement, “We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places — protected for all Americans to experience — unaffordable for some families to visit. The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.
“The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs.”