WASHINGTON - Entrance fees are due to rise at national parks over the next three summers, though a public outcry over specific increases could cause the government to reconsider.
Through 2009, the National Park Service plans to phase in higher rates for annual park passes and fees paid per vehicle or person at about 130 of the 390 parks, monuments and other areas the agency manages.
The government does not collect any fees at the other two-thirds of sites in the park system.
The Park Service, which has planned the increases for some time, did not publicize the higher fees through its headquarters in Washington, leaving that job to site managers, agency spokesman David Barna said Sunday.
The intention was to let affected communities absorb the news and see if they would go along with the increases. Park superintendents can recommend that the agency director, Mary Bomar, rescind the increases if enough people protest. One such place where there has been an outcry is at Yosemite in California, which is in line for an increase in 2008.
This summer, higher entrance fees are due to be collected at 11 parks:
• Muir Woods in California.
• Black Canyon of the Gunnison and Mesa Verde, both in Colorado.
• Fort McHenry in Maryland.
• Martin Van Buren in New York.
• Big Bend and Guadalupe Mountains, both in Texas.
• Bryce Canyon, Cedar Breaks and Zion, all in Utah.
• Colonial in Virginia.
For 2008, fee increases are planned again for Cedar Breaks and at 84 other parks. Then in 2009, fees would rise one more time at Muir Woods, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde and at 36 additional parks.
Barna said the higher fees are not intended to pay for the $230 million increase in the $2.1 billion parks budget that President Bush proposed in February to help prepare for the park system's centennial nine years from now.
The fee increases are in line with a consultant's recommendation that the parks should charge fees according to four categories based on size, amount of services offered and other factors.
"That's so that you're not looking at this on a case-by-case basis for a couple hundred parks," Barna said.comments powered by Disqus