No Issue With The National Parks Fee Increase

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Last year, my boyfriend and I took a 2 1/2 week, 5,600 miles (round trip) epic road trip.  We visited several NPS properties, including three of the ones with proposed fee increases.  It would have been more, but we ran out of time.  We were in awe at the beauty and majesty of the parks we visited, and agreed that every penny we spent on the trip was well worth it. 

Mr. McDonald's letter misses several points (some statistics from press release at the National Parks Service website regarding the fee changes proposal. 

The cost of an annual, America the Beautiful pass ($80) does not increase.  We bought one at our first stop; this is by far the best deal in America--it covers two adults or, at parks with a per-car entrance fee, one car.  As the pass always expires at the end of the month of issue, if you buy it at the beginning of the month you get 13 months instead of 12.  If you're planning more than one park visit, it will pay for itself. Over the 12.5 months we had our pass, we visited 10 NPS sites; without the pass, we'd have paid $156--and it still would have been worth every penny. 

Entrance fees are never charged to visitors under 16 years of age or holders of senior, military, access, volunteer, or Every Kid in a Park (EKIP) passes.  If you haven't heard of the EKIP program, and you have kids, you should check it out.  Visit their website for details, but the short version is every 4th grader, including homeschooled 10-year-olds, is eligible for a free annual pass.  That pass covers the entire family.  Senior passes are $20/year or $80/lifetime; military passes are free.   

The majority of national parks will remain free to enter; only 118 of 417 park sites charge an entrance fee.  Many of the park admissions are good for a week, including Yellowstone.  

The current proposal only raises fees during peak season at 17 of 118 fee-charging parks--the busiest contiguous five-month period of visitation. That's fewer than 15 percent of fee-charging parks, less than five percent of all NPS properties, and for less than half the year.    Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, and Zion National Parks have peak season starting on May 1; Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, and Shenandoah National Parks have peak season starting on June 1; and Joshua Tree National Park's is soon as practicable in 2018, due to damage from wildfires.  Also, under the proposal, a park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be available for $75.  Our visit was in October, so we were in off-peak season for the ones on this list that we either visited or didn't have time to visit.   

If implemented, estimates suggest that the peak-season price structure could increase national park revenue by $70 million per year. That is a 34 percent increase over the $200 million collected in Fiscal Year 2016. Under the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, 80 percent of an entrance fee remains in the park where it is collected. The other 20 percent is spent on projects in other national parks.  This is particularly important considering already-announced cuts to the NPS budget.    

Mr. McDonald stated, "...the proposed increases are too large, particularly when Congress can reduce funding cuts."  I would counter that "can" is a long way from "will", or even "might".  Even one year's cuts could have long-range effects on an already too-small maintenance budget.  Besides, isn't it more fair to charge user fees to those who actually use something, than to charge everyone--whether or not they use it?  I think so. 

We were at our very own beautiful Point Park just a few weekends ago, and witnessed a man walk away because an admission fee was charged--$5.  We could not believe someone would drive up there, pay to $3 park, and then walk away over less than the cost of a movie ticket.  Anyone who owns a home knows that maintenance isn't cheap, and keeping things up is important.  Our parks (and yes, they belong to every American) need to be protected and preserved for generations to come.  We as a people need to stop being so selfish and concentrate more on the greater good.   

I have no issue with the increase; we can't wait to plan our next road trip--it will definitely include an America the Beautiful pass and any NPS properties in proximity to our route. 

Kim Kinsey
Red Bank


Vote For Joda For State Representative District 30

Why Allow New Apartments In An Overcrowded School Zone?

Roy Exum: Who Do You Trust?


As a lifelong educator, I have been privileged to meet many talented graduates who have taken their place in leadership of our community. These former Mocs have received strong educational experiences ... (click for more)

I have to ask why the city of Chattanooga chose to put a 60/40 HUD backed apartment complex on Highway 58 across from Lynda’s Produce in a three school zone that is already overloaded. The ... (click for more)

About this time last month a 25-year-old kid with a fresh degree in “public policy” left me a phone call hoping to get my views. Joda Thongnopnua is the Democratic candidate for the State House ... (click for more)


Opinion

Vote For Joda For State Representative District 30

As a lifelong educator, I have been privileged to meet many talented graduates who have taken their place in leadership of our community. These former Mocs have received strong educational experiences and are now in careers that will lead in business, education, and many other fields for the betterment of Hamilton County and the state of Tennessee. One of those talented people is ... (click for more)

Why Allow New Apartments In An Overcrowded School Zone?

I have to ask why the city of Chattanooga chose to put a 60/40 HUD backed apartment complex on Highway 58 across from Lynda’s Produce in a three school zone that is already overloaded. The three schools, Central, Brown and Harrison Elementary, are all overloaded and on a morning run all the lanes of 58 are packed with traffic. Now I can only guess what that might add to the mix. ... (click for more)

Breaking News

WWTA Releases Timetable That Would Have Ooltewah Sewage Treatment Plant In Operation By 2025; Public Meetings Set At Central High

The Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority has released a timetable that would have a new sewage treatment plant in Ooltewah in operation by 2025. A request for a site at Mahan Gap Road goes before the Planning Commission at Nov. 12 at 1 p.m. It goes to the County Commission Zoning Committee on Dec. 12 and the full commission on Dec. 19. The WWTA also ... (click for more)

Downtown Post Office Finally Getting Handicap Ramp

Chattanooga's Downtown Post Office, after some lawsuits and numerous complaints over the years, is finally getting a handicap ramp. Federal Judge Sandy Mattice said the complaints had increased in recent months and the General Services Administration agreed to fund the project at the historic building on Georgia Avenue. The judge said, "It's a beautiful building, but it's ... (click for more)

Sports

Chattanooga Red Wolves SC Opens Ticket Deposits

Chattanooga Red Wolves Soccer Club opened ticket deposits on Monday for its inaugural 2019 season of professional play in USL League One. Deposits ensure soccer fans get to pick their preferred seats early for group, season and individual tickets. By placing a deposit, fans will also have access to priority seating for the new soccer-specific stadium being built for the 2020 season. ... (click for more)

Baylor, GPS, CCS Advance To State Soccer Semifinals

Baylor traveled to Briarcrest in Memphis on Saturday to compete for a Division II-AA final four spot. After play to a 0-0 tie in the first half, Baylor would find itself down 1-0 in the 63rd minute when Anna Strong scored off a corner kick. That lead did not last long as Ara Rhodes scored the game tying goal one minute later off an Avery David corner kick. Two minutes later, ... (click for more)