Under a proposal open for public comment at Everglades National Park, you would pay more than four times as much to explore the park's backcountry for a week by canoe or kayak than you would to drive into the park over that same period of time.
If the proposal is approved, the cost of applying for a backcountry permit will go from $10 to $12, while the per-night backcountry cost will more than double, from $2 to $5, per person.
While it costs just $10 to drive into the park, a fee that covers seven consecutive days of access for everyone in your car, a seven-day backcountry trip could cost an individual $35, not including the application fee, under the proposal. An annual pass for unlimited entries into Everglades runs $25.
Public comment on the proposal runs through March 15.
"We invite everyone to comment on these proposed backcountry camping fee increases," said Everglades Superintendent Dan Kimball. "Public participation is vital to the National Park Service planning and decision making processes. Everglades National Park is an important landmark in south Florida, and we recognize the importance of obtaining public input in considering increased backcountry camping fees."
According to Park Service statistics, fewer than 8,500 backcountry user-nights were recorded last year.
In proposing the fee, park officials cited a 2012 comparability review with neighboring state and county parks that indicated the proposed increase is substantially lower than those collected at similar sites in the area.
Other park fees will remain the same, including commercial tour fees, boat launch fees, and park entrance fees.
The public is invited to participate in several ways. Comments can be mailed to: Proposed Fee Increase, Everglades and Dry Tortugas National Parks, 40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, Florida 33034-6733. Comments can also be emailed to: [email protected], or telefaxed to: 305-242-7716.
Public comment will be accepted until close of business on March 15. Following the comment period, a recommendation on the fee increases will be developed and submitted to the National Park Service, Washington Office, for final review and action.