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Public Lands

National park visits could drop by 64 percent

According to a recent national poll the proposed fee hike alienates families.

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It comes as no surprise that there are ramifications to Zinke’s plan to raise National Park entrance fees by almost triple the current cost.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are less likely to visit a national park if the admission cost does in fact increase, according to a new poll commissioned by the Outdoor Alliance For Kids. Of the 1,000 adults surveyed nationwide, 64 percent would be not as likely to visit parks with the higher fees proposed by the Trump administration. Sixty-eight percent oppose the potential fee hikes entirely.

These results make perfect sense seeing as the administration received almost 200,000 comments from members of environmentalists and conservation groups. So many people wanted to voice their opposition to this that the public commenting period had to be extended.

Majority of our audience agrees, too. Seventy-two percent of SNEWS readers voted that fees should be kept as low as possible in our recent poll.

Ironically, these latest poll results come at the heels of an announcement that NPS is drastically cutting free days at national parks as well. There were 16 free days in 2016, 10 last year, and only four slated for 2018.

The National Park Service announced in October that it suggested a fee hike starting in 2018, that would raise the cost from $25 to $70 per car ($50 for motorcycle and $30 per person on foot or bike). Seventeen of the nation’s most popular parks would be impacted during each park’s busiest time of year.

“This fee hike will reverse years of progress at the National Park Service to make our parks more inclusive and welcoming to kids and families of all backgrounds,” Jackie Ostfeld, the Outdoor Alliance for Kids founder said.

“If the administration goes through with its proposal to more than double park entry fees, visiting places like the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone will be off the table for many kids and families.”

The proposal has been quite the controversy amongst outdoor enthusiasts and conservationists, who feel it would deprive many people from experiencing all the greatness that these parks have to offer. Yet, the National Park Service and Zinke say it’s for the greater good. The extra revenue would be used to improve the park’s aging infrustruction, including bridges, campgrounds, bathrooms, and visitor services. If implemented, NPS says it’ll see an extra $70 million per year.

Ostfeld says with these fee hikes, along with changes to affordable health care and taxes, low- and middle-income familes are under attack by the administration.

“If Zinke gets his way and raises fees, our national parks will become playgrounds for the wealthy few,” Ostfeld said. “At the same time, he is cutting royalty fees and throwing the doors open wide to the fossil fuel industry. It’s clear where Zinke’s loyalties lie – with the fossil fuel industry, not with the people who explore and enjoy national parks. Now is the time to double down on our efforts to protect our lands and ensure that all people have opportunities to explore and enjoy them.”