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NPCA, NPHA Want National Park Service To Raise Entrance Fees To Parks


A coalition led by the National Parks Conservation Association and the National Park Hospitality Association is asking National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis to increase entrance fees in parks that now charge them, and to expand such fees into parks that don't have them.

Doing so, they argue, would provide the Park Service with greater revenues as the agency moves into its second century beginning in 2016. 

In a letter sent to the director earlier this month, the groups urge Director Jarvis to implement proposals outlined earlier this year at a conference they organized in Washington.

Also supporting the call for higher fees are the American Hiking Society, theŽ American Recreation Coalition, the National Marine Manufacturers Association, theŽ National Tour Association, theŽ Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association, theŽ Recreation Vehicle Industry Association, theŽ Southeast Tourism Society, and the Western States Tourism Policy Council.

The proposal goes beyond simply raising or instituting entrance fees. It also asks the Park Service to consider allowing:

* Tour operators to increase their fees;

* Fees to be boosted during the high seasons;

* Daily entrance fees, as opposed to the current weekly approach, and;

* An "international visitor" package that would include a short-term entrance pass as well as "maps, services available on mobile devices and other park information and would have special souvenir value."

Under the heading of GREAT PARK EXPERIENCES & SUSTAINABLE FUNDING, the groups made the following suggestions to the director:

The National Park Service has a unique opportunity to make some important changes in its park visitor fee structure that would result in significantly increased revenue for the national park system in its next 100 years while enhancing the park visitor experience. Currently, NPS collects entrance fees, recreation use fees, transportation fees and other special fees under a variety of legal authorities, including the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004. The changes below could be done under existing authorities.

NPS should adopt a Centennial park fee program with two goals: (1) increased revenue for park operations that will enhance the National Park Service’s capacity to serve the visitor; and (2) a program that allows visitors to continue to enjoy the parks at a reasonable cost.

Some important ideas to consider include:

* A “dynamic” fee structure that (1) provides for higher fees during heavy visitation periods and reduced entrance, campground, backcountry and other user fees when parks are less visited; and (2) creates seasonal and shorter-duration passes for targeted groups, such as an international visitor pass that could include maps, services available on mobile devices and other park information and would have special souvenir value.

* Implementing individual park entrance fees at the level the National Park Service has already established for different park classifications, and modifying those fees at appropriate intervals

* Considering expanding the number of reduced fee days and free days to encourage park use by people qualifying for federal assistance programs

* Assessing alternatives to the current “carload” pricing, including charging per person fees for each adult after the first two adults in a vehicle, and consideration of charging per day fees.

* Reducing the volunteer hours required to receive a single park entrance pass, and accelerate earning of passes through volunteer efforts at parks unable to collect fees

* Reviewing park units not now collecting fees to determine whether there should be additional units with entrance and related fees for all or portions of the year, using technology to reduce collection costs and add convenience for visitors

* Increasing vital services to visitors served by tour operators to be offset by appropriate fees with adequate planning notice before implementation


Time to move on. Like death and taxes, closing this thread to comments was inevitable.

Well, for starters, here is a link to Market Watch, a Wall Street Journal publication that lists ten of them.

And I guess I'll have to give you one. When you say our schools produce millions of illiterate low/no information voters every year, you must be right. Otherwise where would all those Republicans come from?

Again, try reading to become something other than one of those low information folks you talk about. Hedrick Smith's book is a good place to start.

And I must apologize. Dear Traveler readers, please accept my most sincere apologies for allowing myself to get sucked into yet more foolish, endless interchanges with our friend, ec.

Now, I think I'll go hike in the mountains and enjoy a delightful day.

Let's see 100 - 47 = 53% so, yes, most of us pay income taxes.

Lee 47% of FILERS. Not everyone files. In fact 10s of millions don't file and they don't pay taxes. So in fact "most" don't pay income taxes.

And is it our public schools that set our national budgets

Yes. By turning out millions of illiterate low/no information voters every year.

And, Lee, can you provide us a list of those corporations that pay no taxes?

Let's see 100 - 47 = 53% so, yes, most of us pay income taxes. And among those who don't are some of our biggest corporations and those with enough political clout to write tax codes that exempt large parts of their incomes.

You used that awful word taxes in your recent post, and thus proved my point.

And is it our public schools that set our national budgets or is it 540 something Congresscritters who have been purchased by big money? Besides, without condoms, there might be a lot more of those awful 47 percenters. But we digress here.

May I suggest a great book for you to read? Who Stole the American Dream by Hedrick Smith. Y'might learn something.

Most of us pay income taxes

No. 47% of those that file don't pay and of course there are 10s of million that don't file.

Is selfishness our new reigning national value?

Not new just ever increasing since the days of Franklin Roosevelt.

Oh, and of course, the users do pay for the roads and bridges through taxes on gas and for flushing their toilets with water and sewer charges.

I'm puzzled. All of us who post comments here are "regular taxpayers," aren't we? Every adult in the United States pays taxes of some sort. Most of us pay income taxes - or did so while in our working years if not in retirement. Is that somehow supposed to make us entitled to use parks and forests and other public places free of charge?

If the Tea Party and Paul Ryan are correct, then aren't those who are enjoying free use of those places actually among the "parasites" who are so hated by those who shout that everyone should be taking "personal responsibility" for ourselves and not sucking up dollars from other taxpayers who do not, for whatever reason, use those parks or forests? (Or, for that matter, health care, or Social Security, or other current hot-button "entitlements?")

Am I, because I have a Golden Age Pass, also a parasite? Isn't that the entire thrust of some political persuasions or anti-taxation groups? If those people are correct, don't we ALL have a "responsibility" to pay for whatever we use? How can we "cut taxes" without asking everyone to pitch in to maintain our parks, roads, sewers, bridges, and other infrastructure? If we are going to reduce taxes without eliminating the things that make our civilization possible, won't that mean going to charging tolls for all those who drive a highway or flush a toilet?

I guess what I'm clumsily trying to point out is that the challenges facing all of us are much more complex than most of us realize. How do we find a workable balance between responsibility and entitlements? And maybe right there is the real problem. Can it be that too many of us want what I want, how I want it, and are simply unable or unwilling to consider anything or anyone beyond ME?

Is selfishness our new reigning national value?

Rick, i am well away that was your point, but it is totally irrelevant. There are thousands of "unique" places, experiences, things to own. To suggest that everyone will pay anything for them just because they are unique is ridicules. The laws of supply and demand hold whether the supply is one or a million. Like dakota, you need to do a little investigation into the price elasticity of demand.

Which brings me to Lees comment "it says something about some Americans' demand to be constantly entertained."

I think instead this whole thread says something about the failure of the public school system which teaches how to but on a condom but fails to address the subjects of basic economics and finance. That ignorance has put this country into the financial mess it is and has necessitated the cuts in NPS funding that no one here likes.


This article is about fees in the parks in general and I have made no statements whatsovever about the Smokies fee here. Believe it or not, there are those of us regular taxpayers who feel as if we shouldn't be double taxed to use public lands. I realize that flies in the face of all those who worked for the NPS. The culture of how the NPS protects its own is embodied in the Case of the Indian Trader quite well. Am I saying that you are part of that culture? No. Do I think the NPS is infested by a culture of deceit, manipulation and disregard of public sentiment? Absolutley. This fee issue throughout the system is clear evidence of that fact. And yes, it is apparent that I am arguing with quite a few NPS people of which you are admittedly one. But thanks for letting me have my opinion. That is quite gracious.

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