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Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:43 pm
Accepting the "gentrification" of our national parks as inevitable is retreat from the basic concepts our country (and the national park system) were founded upon. Yes, it does matter if visitors are citizens of international visitors. And this goes both ways- our afflunent citizens overwhelming other country's public spaces, as well as visa versa. Your comments seem to support the idea of protected land as only for a global elite. Seeking only self-interest and/or economic terms misses the moral aspect. This issue will not likley impact me much, with my senior pass and not that many years ahead of me. But it will surely impact my grandchildren and a majority of Americans. The national park principles are not outdated or unworkable.

I've had a Senior Pass for 5 years so the fee increase does not effect me personally. However, back when I was younger, it would have. in the 1980s when my son was young, my family would manage two trips a year to the Sierra. Otherwise, we were working. We'd go once in the summer and to Yosemite Valley in the winter. Back then, the entrance fee was $5. In the winter, we'd stay in a cabin without a bath at Curry Village or the Lodge. At the time, that was $14 to $18 a night (depending on which year). So it was something we could afford on our minimal income. We could not have afforded $70.

The argument that other forms of entertainment are comparable to the $70 does not apply if you are low income. I can't afford a lot of those things even today. I stopped going to concerts (except Springsteen) years ago because of the ticket prices. My wife and I don't eat out often because it costs too much. The $70 fee will be most deeply felt by those individuals and families for whom that is a major expense.

Congress should appropriate the necessary funds for National Parks and National Forests instead of giving millions to such things as their own junket trips, which are taxpayer funded paid vacations for people in Congress, their staffs, and their families.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 11:06 pm
by longri
mrphil wrote:The great equalizer would be in the form of, the minute they have to park in order to visit a major tourist center such as the Valley, etc, they pay to park at the same rate as everyone else.
Who needs to park? I'll just have my self-driving car slowly do the Valley loop road while I'm off on a day hike or visiting the Village shopping complex.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 5:10 pm
From the New York Times.

"National Parks for the 1 Percent"
by Timothy Egan ... -col-left-

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Sun Nov 12, 2017 11:41 pm
by mokelumnekid
I take strong exception to the poorly supported anecdotal comments regarding "government waste" from a couple of the previous posts. I have participated in many dimensions of working within the NPS-USFS system from a humble trail crew member, to a climber, to conducting research in the NPS, especially Yosemite, many times and the notion that there is some kind of minimum or that people are trying to low-ball things, or are simply selfish agents seeking to fatten their budgets is baloney. Cheap shots that are nothing more than anecdotal unsupported "some guy told me what some guys said...," ignore the complex realities of managing a vastly overused and underfunded enterprise that must somehow serve competing interests equally and with a smile. So to those who want to see things done "more wisely," may wish to get out of their armchair and get very, very involved in the details to better understand the difference between being a spectator and trying to do the job. Virtually every NPS and most USFS employees I've met, and that is a lot, from science staff, to mule drivers, work their tails off and are as committed as anyone on this board to trying to get things right, and strive to find balance in a difficult, almost impossible balancing act.

10 days left to comment on NPS fee increase to $70

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 12:18 pm
by wildhiker
Just a reminder that you have only 10 days left to submit your comments to the Park Service on this proposed fee increase. The last day is November 23. I am opposed to the fee increase and have submitted comments to that effect (see below). The cynic will say that this is a political decision and public opposition will not change it. But public outcry does have an affect in the long run. It bolsters those congressional representatives who are opposed. And administrations also change regularly. I also sent copies of my comments to my Senators and Congresswoman (you can easily find their web forms to submit letters just searching in your web browser), again, to build the case that our parks need continued general tax support rather than turning them into playgrounds for the rich.

Here is the national park website again where you can submit comments: ... ntID=83652

Here are the comments I submitted:

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am commenting on the proposal to raise entrance fees at 17 of the most popular national parks during prime season.

I am a strong supporter of the national parks and a frequent visitor to parks all over the nation. I strongly support increased revenues for the National Park Service, but I believe that funding for parks should come from general taxes, as they are a heritage for all. I am opposed to this proposal to make substantial fee increases at our most iconic parks during the prime season when families generally are able to visit. The increased fee would not be a problem for me, personally, but I believe that it will pose a significant barrier to low income families. It is also a drastic increase - two or three times the current rates, all at once - which makes it more likely to deter visitors.

The parks belong to the entire nation, not just the rich. Increasing the entrance fee to $70 per car may very well deter many of our low income families from visiting. For example, there are many cases where low income families live near the parks, such as the farm towns of the California central valley who are only a couple of hours drive from Yosemite, Kings Canyon, and Sequoia National Park - all in your list for planned fee increases. Many of these families cannot afford to stay overnight in the parks but would consider making a long day trip to visit. For such a trip, the only extra expenses are gasoline and entrance fees. Adding $40 to the entrance fee could well mean a 50% increase in the total trip cost and the decision to not visit the park. This is self-defeating in the long run. If all the nation cannot visit the parks, why should they support their continued maintenance?

When I was a child, my family was working class. Because my parents had many children, the only way we could afford to travel anywhere was to pile into the family station wagon and go camping. My early family camping trips to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks revealed this wondrous world of nature to me, and made me a life-long admirer and supporter of our national parks. It is quite likely that my family would never have visited those parks if the entrance fee had been $70 per car!

Please do not implement this proposal unless you can devise a method to allow low-income families to pay a lower rate. Otherwise you are disenfranchising them from their American heritage.

I suggest an alternative: raise the rates for organized tours only. I have seen more and more of these organized tours arrive in our national parks in big buses that discharge 30 to 50 passengers at once. Although the buses reduce traffic compared to private cars, their high capacity does create peak loads that stress infrastructure. Essentially, these tour operators are using our common heritage to generate their private profits. Furthermore. the entrance fees to the parks are only a small portion of the tour costs and the tour participants could easily afford an increase in their overall tour price to support the parks. This is especially true for the increasing numbers of foreign tourists from around the world who are taking national park tours.

Why should foreign tourists who have paid nothing in taxes to create and maintain the parks be allowed to enter at the same price as Americans? Other countries recognize that their own citizens have a greater right to the use of the parks than foreign tourists. For example, I just returned last spring from a week-long tour of the Galapagos Islands National Park in Ecuador. That park charges an entrance fee of $100 per person for foreigners, but only $6 per person for Ecuadoran citizens. In fact, that $100 was less than 2% of my entire trip cost, and I, and the other thousands of tourists, could easily afford to pay twice or three times that amount to the parks. But if I were an Ecuadoran citizen, paying $100 per person to visit the Galapagos Islands would probably deter me.

So, my solution to raise more revenue for the parks is to charge more to foreign tourists. The easiest way to do that is to charge more to organized tour groups. Organized groups of citizens can also afford to pay more. Average families, particularly low-income families, should not be priced out of the parks by a high general entrance fee!

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:34 pm
by oldranger
Great job, great point about charging foreign tourists more than tax payers, Implementation might be a bit dicey. What do you need for documentation? Passport? Drivers license? Copy of tax form?

A similar beef is that foreigners have equal access to US managed lands that require a lottery or even first come first served permits and pay the same amount or nothing.

Anyhow you motivated me to comment, reiterating your point:

As a long time possessor of a senior access Pass I have no personal stake in the proposed fee increase. However as a long time user of national parks I am concerned about the impacts of such an increase in fees on our poorer residents. These are their parks too. If the parks need additional income there are two better ways to address the problem. Number one is that Congress should allocate more of its tax revenue to support the management of national parks. Second National parks should mimic what most state park systems do--charge higher fees to non-residents, i.e. Non tax paying people living outside the USA. For these folks who are paying many dollars to visit the US, added fees for visiting a National Park (all parks, not just the ones with the proposed fee increases) would be just a tiny fraction of the costs of visiting our country.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 1:49 pm
by rlown
most countries require a B1 (work) or B2 (recreational/tourism) visa to enter the united states with documentation for the reason of the visit. China is one example. There was a big bus at Whoa Nellies on the way out of a park, with about 60 Chinese going into the store to get a quick snack and then run to the bus.

Generally the passport is stamped with the allowed visa.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 2:19 pm
by longri
wildhiker wrote:I would absolutely support higher entrance fees to national parks for foreigners. They aren't paying the taxes to create and support the parks. A lot of other countries do this. Ecuador charges us gringos $100 per person to visit the Galapagos Islands National Park; citizens are charged $6. Chile charges foreigners about $17 per person in low season and $33/person in high season to visit Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia; rates for citizens are about $6/person low and $10/person high season. Of course, some enlightened countries that understand "you get what you pay for" provide adequate tax funds for their national parks and charge no admission fee at all - such as New Zealand.
I would advocate for taking the high ground rather than the lowest common denominator. Let's set an example, along with places like New Zealand and Australia, for treating everybody equally. I've visited both of those places fairly recently and appreciated that they did not make a distinction.

It reminds of the medical care given to a friend who broke his leg on a hiking trip to Europe. The treatment was high quality and ridiculously inexpensive when compared to what it would have cost here in the United States. They could have laws to stick it to non-residents. I'm very happy they don't. It makes for a better world.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 4:50 pm
by Wandering Daisy
Your "high road" of worldwide equality only applies to an international elite, of which you and I are a part. But most of the people in the world cannot afford international travel at all; some can afford a trip to a close-by national park if fees remain low; unfortunately others cannot even afford that. The point is that our national parks need to be affordable for our least wealthy citizens. And if fees are raised because our government cannot or is not willing to fully support them, then in essence, our parks become privatized, with inclusion and exclusion based on wealth. Why should non-citizens NOT pay more to support the parks so that the lower income Americans can also enjoy what is really theirs.

This fee suggestion is just a beginning, sort of an experiment. Just wait, and soon the annual passes will go up proportionally. And when money is generated to cover expenses, the day the fees would be reduced is the days pigs fly. Our parks will then be privatized, whether officially called that or not.

Rather than raise entrance fees, I would like to see things go back to the way they were when I was a kid- free entrance and free campgrounds, for everyone. Public lands supported by public funds.

Re: NPS fee increase to $70?

Posted: Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:07 pm
by longri
Wandering Daisy wrote:...if fees are raised because our government cannot or is not willing to fully support them, then in essence, our parks become privatized, with inclusion and exclusion based on wealth. Why should non-citizens NOT pay more to support the parks so that the lower income Americans can also enjoy what is really theirs.
Because it's a bad model. I think it's better if our government funds the parks adequately, for the benefit of everyone who visits.

There are plenty of unpleasant alternative scenarios to choose from. Selfishly sticking it to the foreign visitors might be a part of that. But don't fool yourself into thinking that's going to make it affordable for the less affluent locals.

This fund through general taxation versus pay as you go question is part of a larger political debate.