Success! Department of the Interior Abandons Plans to Increase National Parks Entry Fees

Don’t let anyone tell you that activism doesn’t make a difference. After the Department of the Interior proposed dramatically increasing entry fees for some of our most popular national parks, Care2 members responded with a firm and resounding “NO.”

The result: Ryan Zinke back off on the proposal, and the Department of the Interior will keep fees at their current rate.

Right now, it costs $25 to enter a national park. And that’s pretty reasonable, considering that the parks are a resource we collectively own and pay to maintain. The country’s preserved open spaces are something to celebrate, and many of our parks are iconic. Sites like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon are known all over the world, and these parks attract huge numbers of visitors every year.

The Department of the Interior proposed increasing the entry fee to $70 at busy parks, citing the need for more funds to manage declining infrastructure and other issues. That fee hike might not have made a big difference to some, but for others it would have made visiting national parks nearly impossible.

Low-income people surveyed about possible fee changes explicitly said that they wouldn’t be able to afford it. Nearly two-thirds of people said the fee increase could potentially impact their desire to visit a national park. Yikes.

The ability get out into nature shouldn’t be restricted to wealthier people. Spending time in nature can be good for both physical and psychological health, whether that means hiking in Yosemite, catching some fresh air in Crater Lake, marveling at natural wonders in Carlsbad Caverns — a UNESCO World Heritage Site — or taking a break for the world at the Grand Canyon.

People of color, in particular, may feel excluded from outdoor culture and less able to participate — and raising fees won’t change that.

So when the Department of the Interior floated its proposal and asked for public comment, over 100,000 people submitted their thoughts – most in opposition

As a whole, Americans understand the need to pay for infrastructure and services at national parks. After all, it’s a bummer to find a busted bathroom or limited staff on site when you head outdoors. But many say the solution to these issues shouldn’t be increasing entry fees and discouraging visitors. Instead, public lands advocates argue, Congress should allocate more funding to the National Park Service, creating a robust and stable mechanism for funding these needs — both now and in the future.

The Department of the Interior has warned that fees will increase no matter what, but the tidal wave of opposition may have persuaded officials to keep those increases more modest and reasonable. And that’s a victory for everyone who participated in the public comment period and joined organizations in filing petitions to fight the increase. It’s also a profound argument for staying engaged in the civic process.

Sometimes it feels like calling representatives or filling public comments is pointless, and it’s easy to get burned out – especially when the legislation you’re fighting passes anyway. But this shows that your collective voices do make a difference, and it’s worth it to take a few minutes to take action. Maybe that’s calling an elected official, filing comments on a proposal, signing a petition or starting a petition. And, hey, when you’re done? Consider telling a friend.

Photo Credit: Angela Mueller/Flickr

84 comments

KimJ M
KimJ M8 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 days ago

tfs

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KimJ M
KimJ M8 days ago

tfs

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Ana F
Ana F19 days ago

Really good news!

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Lisa M
Lisa M20 days ago

Noted.

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Lisa M
Lisa M20 days ago

Noted.

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Camilla Vaga
Camilla Vaga21 days ago

ty

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john casablanca
john c27 days ago

Luna S. - you need to be chained up and put away. My opinion is that you are using Care2 as a social platform, because no one else will listen to your "fantasies". Please
get some remedial assistance with your English, it is absolutely horrendous.
John C./Houston, Tx.

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