Everglades National Park Pursuing Higher Fees For Backcountry Use

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: , 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.

Comments

..and here we go again. Anyone else notice that the link to leave a comment was invalid? What a joke. They have a 10 day comment period? Seriously? Just like the Smokies. This fee is predetermined and public comments will be disregarded. Jarvis and the NPS are out of control. Money drunk. Like addicts jonesing for a cash infusion. Their hunger is never filled but the public access to our own lands shrinks daily. Folks need to start waking up and see what is happening with YOUR public lands. Quit buying into their poor mouthing excuses and see what they are really doing. Open your eyes to their fee abuses. It is an agency without oversight and high time someone did something.

Since when are our national parks supposed to be run like a business? With that logic NPS should charge tuition for kids to come to the parks and learn about nature since the parks are such great outdoor laboratories. The ideal should be that the parks should be open to all the people mostly for free. (That is the spirit of the organic act.) If fees are charged they should be levied communsurate with the services/facilities used and not just tacked on because managers can get away with it (that is the moral thing to do). It is criminal that backcountry users are hit the hardest while typically utilizing the least amount of these services. I find it ironic that Sally Jewell has recently announced (at her senate confirmation hearing) her intent to increase relevance and access to all our public lands at the same time NPS is repeatedly doing just the opposite.

Although the increased fee won't affect my plans to paddle the Wilderness Waterway/Ten Thousand Islands in January, and while I'm inclined to support the increase, given that "the fees [will] provide direct benefits to park visitors such as improving the condition of facilities, natural and cultural resource preservation, and interpretation of the park's resources," I wonder why the other park fees will remain the same, including commercial tour fees, boat launch fees, and park entrance fees. Why not a lower increase spread across all three types of fee?

The EVER press release is at:

http://www.nps.gov/ever/parknews/everglades-national-park-seeks-input-on-proposed-fee-increase.htm

If the 1-use email address is invalid (possible with the changeover from Lotus notes to gmail), send your comments to their fee program manager and put something like "Backcountry Fee Increase Comments" as the subject.

While I think that this fee increase could be justified if the funds go to maintaining the chickees, I don't see any documents that explain the use of the funds.

If we want to cut Federal spending, we will probably all have to pony up to pay some extra fees. Part of the problem is that there are so many restrictions on how parks may collect and where they may collect and when they may collect that it's often awfully difficult to find a way to collect.

It's really amusing when people who demand spending cuts also demand that nothing be cut from a favorite program or place. Here in Utah, our Congresscritters are going nuts trying to defend their favorite sacred cows, chickens, kittens, and their most generous donors. It would be amusing if it wasn't so pitiful.


there are so many restrictions on how parks may collect and where they may collect and when they may collect that it's often awfully difficult to find a way to collect.


That was my guess, too, Lee. I'm fine with the increase.

Here we are near the end of the big 10-day comment period and still the provided email link results in "undeliverable" kick backs. I personally know they were notified of this problem a week ago. How difficult is it to correct a problem with an email link or, even easier, replace it with another on the webpage? Everglades NP's lack of attention to such basic and simple elements of public feedback speaks volumes.

According to the article above, if everyone who uses the backcountry were to secure their own permit this increase in fees would result in $42,500. Obviously, that won't be the case, as the majority of permits will cover multiple people. But we shouldn't confuse this increase on one small user group -- with no stated need/ benefit -- as some sort of budget altering windfall. We also shouldn't confuse one small user group with "all" or everyone.

For all we know (since Everglades provided nothing in the way of details), the increase will fund a secretary for the "Fee Program Manager."

According to the park's website, "the fees [will] provide direct benefits to park visitors such as improving the condition of facilities, natural and cultural resource preservation, and interpretation of the park's resources."