If you live in the Tennessee-North Carolina area, tune in Thursday night to support Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Imagine, for a moment, that you're in charge of setting fees for the National Park System. What would you charge for, and how much would you charge? Or would you charge anything at all?
Bison madness is in full swing in Yellowstone National Park with snorting, groaning, spitting, bison bulls chasing the girls (cows) down the roads, much to the delight of many park visitors who gladly park their vehicles in the road and film the action. No family vacation is complete without getting caught in a Yellowstone bison jam.
In this age of informational instant gratification, how has your national park experience changed? For Millennials, who grew up with smartphones, texting, and Facebook, not so much. For Baby Boomers, who learned to read with actual newspapers, books, and magazines in their hands, whose phones were attached to the wall by a cord, a great deal. Is that change for the good, or the bad?
Legislation introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives would, if enacted as drafted, require the National Park Service to determine "a nationally consistent entrance fee policy and corresponding rate structure" for the 401 units of the National Park System, a potentially sweeping requirement that seemingly could generate tens of millions of additional dollars for the parks.
Making sense out of National Park System visitation statistics can be tough due to faulty counters, late opening dates, and storms that close parks. All that considered, though, attendance at the parks seems to be up a bit this year through the first six months.
Once considered largely to be worthless, national parks today are economic engines that generate $26.5 billion for the nation's economy.
Traveler's View: Great Smoky Mountains National Park's Backcountry Fee Debate Points To Larger Problem
In a 25-page motion attacking not just the propriety but also the legality of a backcountry user fee at Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a group of backpackers has not only asked that the fees be tossed out, but shined some light on the conundrum of how to afford our public lands.
Horses have a long, long history in America. They came to the New World with the Spaniards, and have carried riders ever since. In many national parks horses are icons, seen as both honorable steeds that carry mounted rangers and as work horses that carry both visitors and gear. But they also have impacts on the landscape, and there have been calls to ban them from the parks. But should they be banned?