By Hugo Martin
To raise funding for maintenance and repairs, the National Park Service said Tuesday it is considering raising vehicle entrance fees by up to 180 percent at the nation’s most popular parks during the peak visiting season.
Under the plan to raise funding to fix roads, bridges, campgrounds and bathrooms, the federal agency is proposing a $70 fee for each private, noncommercial vehicle _ up from the current fares of $25 to $30, depending on the park. The fee for a motorcycle would more than double to $50 from the current $15 to $25. Visitors on foot or bicycle would pay $30, up from the $10 to $15.
The annual pass for all federal lands would remain $80.
The increase at 17 of the nation’s most popular parks would generate an extra $70 million a year over the $200 million now collected annually from entrance fees, the parks agency estimated.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
The National Park Service will accept public comment on the proposal until Nov. 23 at the park’s public comment website. Under the proposal, fees for commercial vehicles entering the parks would also rise. The increases could go into effect as soon as next spring.
On social media, the proposal received a mixed response, with opponents saying the increase would keep low-income Americans out of the most popular parks. Supporters of the idea said the fee increases are needed to maintain parks that are overrun by crowds.
“This is going to ... impact lower income families way harder,” Ian Coggins wrote on the National Park Service’s Facebook page. “Accommodations at Yosemite are already prohibitively expensive, and this will pretty much limit those making day trips who don’t have a lot of cash to spare.”
Jim Bray of Orange, Calif., disagreed, posting on the website: “The amount of litter has increased over the years as people show less concern and respect for the parks. So charge extra so they can hire more people to clean and maintain the parks.”