Negative public reaction to a proposed increase in Olympic National Park's entrance fees has prompted park officials to leave the current fees in place through 2009.
“Over 200 people provided comments last year about the fee increases we proposed for 2009,” said acting Superintendent Sue McGill. “We learned through this process that people care deeply about Olympic National Park, and they care deeply that it be accessible and affordable for everyone, regardless of economic status or ability to pay.”
Last spring Olympic invited the public to comment on a series of proposed changes to the park’s entrance and user fees; all changes were proposed to take effect in 2009. These included increasing the park’s seven-day entrance pass from $15 to $25 for a vehicle and from $5 to $12 for an individual. The Olympic National Park Annual Pass was proposed to change from its current rate of $30 to $50. Changes were also proposed for camping fees and overnight wilderness use fees.
At Olympic, fees provide about $1.8 million each year for visitor facilities and services. Since 1997, approximately $14.3 million in fee revenue has helped fund projects throughout the park, including trail maintenance, replacement trail bridges, accessible restrooms at park trailheads, replacement picnic tables and fire grates at campgrounds, new exhibits and educational materials and many other projects and visitor services.
Some of the projects slated for coming years include restoring grounds at the Quinault Valley’s historic Kestner Homestead, replacing underground electrical lines to Hurricane Ridge, trail reconstruction, replacing exhibits at Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and improving accessibility of park walkways.
“Fee revenue provides extensive benefits to park visitors, but it’s vitally important that we balance those benefits with the public’s ability and willingness to pay,” said Superintendent McGill.