“It really needs the attention of Congress, and it needs dedicated long-term funding to address it,” he said.
The proposal would cover national parks including Acadia, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Olympic, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion.
Advocates are concerned the $70 fee would make the parks inaccessible to lower-income families, which Mr. Dolesh said could have the long-term effect of the next generation never learning to love parks.
A survey of 1,000 Americans by the Outdoors Alliance for Kids in December found that 64 percent said they’d be less likely to visit a park if the fees were increased, including 71 percent of parkgoers with an income under $30,000.
Among public comments the National Park Service gathered, many said they would no longer be able to afford park visits, or expressed concern for those who wouldn’t.
“Our parks are for ALL of the American people, not just got those who are wealthy,” one person wrote. “This increase needs to be stopped. Give the parks the money they need out of the federal government’s budget, not the pockets of the people.”
“We do not want our parks to become only a destination for the wealthy and for foreign tourists — these parks are America’s heritage, and everyone deserves to see them,” another wrote.
Still, others were supportive of the fee increase, citing the need for improvements.
“It’s too bad these necessary maintenance and upgrades must come at the expense of access by the less well-off, but such is today’s political climate,” one person wrote. “Raise the fees.”