NPS's Washington-centric approach, announcing the proposed fees for 17 parks without any detailed analysis or prior outreach to impacted communities and setting a short comment period that includes major holidays, is created to minimize input from the American public to whom the national parks belong.
The current fee is $30.
Proposed increases would affect 17 national parks during peak tourist seasons - mostly during summer months. "All Americans should have access to these lands, especially communities that the Service's surveys show have often been underrepresented, including inner city children and Hispanic-American and African American populations", they said.
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The National Park Service faces an estimated $11 billion maintenance backlog.
The Park Service said it wanted to accommodate interest from Congress and the public. Individual entry fees would go up from $15 to $30. If approved, the increases would go into effect in 2018.
The controversial proposal would raise fees to as much as $70 per vehicle for 17 national parks, including Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands and Zion national parks here in Utah.
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"We need to have a vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids' grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today", Zinke said in a statement. He and other attorneys general from states affected by proposed increases, including Arizona, Oregon and Washington, said if adopted, the move would further exacerbate funding shortfalls by reducing park visitation. The new deadline is Friday, Dec. 22.
"It is simply disingenuous for the Trump Administration to claim that this proposal to charge families more is needed to help address the maintenance backlogs at our lovely national parks".
The Park Service says it would raise $70 million annually under the proposal. It is not known whether the same thing would happen if fees are raised again.
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