Reader Participation Day: Are Park Entrance Fees Fair?
Earlier this summer Interior Secretary Ken Salazar designated three weekends as "entrance free" weekends in the National Park System. Anecdotally, the first of those three weekends attracted larger-than-normal turnouts to many parks. Which makes us wonder, do you mind paying entrance fees, or should they be eliminated?
This can be a thorny subject. After all, our tax dollars in theory go to support the national parks, which are held in public trust. But the parks have more needs than the Congress seems willing to pay for, and so we encounter entrance fees.
Some say those fees are no big deal, that 1) they're a minuscule part of a national park visit or 2) we shouldn't mind chipping in a little extra for the parks. But others will point to the taxes we pay and argue that entrance fees are double taxation. Yet another argument is that fees discriminate against lower income earners.
So, tell us what you think. Should the National Park Service do away with entrance fees and put out a donation box for those willing to toss the agency some extra cash?