National park fees going up, but not as high as previously planned

LOCAL    
          National Park fees going up        Starting this summer most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will increase by $5

LOCAL National Park fees going up Starting this summer most seven-day vehicle passes to enter national parks will increase by $5

The National Park Service is abandoning its plan to more than double entrance fees at its most popular parks after strong public backlash, announcing Thursday more modest, yet broader price increases instead.

The proposal marks a significant turn from a plan in December to increase peak-season entrance fees at 17 popular parks from $25 to $70 - the largest hike since World War II - to help pay for the National Park Service's almost $12 billion infrastructure backlog.

It will now be $35 per vehicle; a proposed plan from the Department of Interior would have forced visitors to pay $70 per vehicle during peak seasons to visit the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and other iconic parks.

According to the Department of Interior, the nation's 417 parks, monuments and historic and cultural sites need an estimated $11.6 billion to clear their growing list of deferred maintenance projects.

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"Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality", Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said.

Zinke also said that the $11.6 billion national park maintenance backlog "will require a multitiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to fix infrastructure".

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199 million in Fiscal Year 2016.

National park entrance fees are broken up into four groups based on park size and type.

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"This is a prime example that activism works", Grijalva added.

However, in Thursday's announcement, Zinke thanked "the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal".

The fee increase does not apply to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is operated by the Bureau of Land Management, or Great Basin National Park, which doesn't charge for admission.

Significantly more than twothirds of federal parks will stay absolutely free to input, and also the new charges go in effect on June 1, " said. Yosemite's entrance fee will rise to $35.

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The annual Tri Park Pass, an annual pass that allows visitors unlimited entry to Hawai'i Volcanoes and Haleakala National Parks and Pu'uhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park, will increase in phases, going to $50 from $30 June 1 and then up to $55 in January 2020.

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