Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

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Should the NPS charge higher entrance fees during peak times?

No.
9
27%
Yes. $70 is reasonable.
5
15%
Yes. Let's settle with $50.
9
27%
Yes. But only for foreign tourists/commercial groups.
4
12%
Yes. Discount 50% for people hiking 2+ miles.
1
3%
Yes. Discount 50% for people who don't park their car.
1
3%
I don't care. It's not like I've ever paid anyway!
4
12%
 
Total votes: 33

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chumley
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Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by chumley » Oct 24 2017 2:27 pm

Highlights:
• Applicable at 17 of the busiest national parks
• Acadia, Arches, Bryce, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, J Tree, Olympic, Rainier, Rocky Mtn, SeKi, Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion
• 5 month peak season begins May 1, 2018 in most (June 1 in others)
• Entrance fees increase to $70 per vehicle and $30 per person on bike or foot during peak season
• Increased fee structures for commercial tour operators at all parks all the time (plus peak season fees at the 17 parks above)
• Single-park annual pass available for $75
• Current America the Beautiful Pass still available and valid for $80 for all parks

• Comment period today through 11/23/17

Read the full news release here:
https://www.nps.gov/orgs/1207/10-24-201 ... oposal.htm

edit: poll added
Last edited by chumley on Oct 26 2017 9:05 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Jim_H
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by Jim_H » Oct 24 2017 3:37 pm

I support this.
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flagscott
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by flagscott » Oct 24 2017 6:33 pm

Why not go even higher to ensure that no one below the median income in the US can afford a day in the park? I'm sure a lot of people on this site will support this. Empathy is not Arizona's strong suit.

Meanwhile, the NPS budget is still scheduled to be cut. This will just mean more money from visitors to offset larger decreases in the budget allocation so that Trump can cut taxes for the rich.

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Tough_Boots
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by Tough_Boots » Oct 24 2017 7:14 pm

flagscott wrote:Why not go even higher to ensure that no one below the median income in the US can afford a day in the park? I'm sure a lot of people on this site will support this. Empathy is not Arizona's strong suit.
Or maybe they'll see the $80 annual pass as an investment and choose to use it all year long. Not all people below the median income have the same opinions or priorities-- way to empathize.
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flagscott
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by flagscott » Oct 24 2017 9:21 pm

Tough_Boots wrote:Or maybe they'll see the $80 annual pass as an investment and choose to use it all year long. Not all people below the median income have the same opinions or priorities-- way to empathize.
I don't understand what you're saying. I'm saying that $70 makes a park visit unaffordable or close for a lot of people. Anyone who might find $70 out of reach isn't going to have $80 for a park pass. It would be great if more people saw the parks as an investment. But to make an investment, you have to have some extra money to spend.

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chumley
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by chumley » Oct 24 2017 9:57 pm

I wonder what percentage of visitors to national parks (even the free ones -- which is the vast majority of them) are below the median income level. Does NPS gather visitation statistics like that?
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SpiderLegs
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by SpiderLegs » Oct 25 2017 5:47 am

If you can afford the gas and overpriced hotel rooms anywhere within two hours of the GC, spending an extra $20-$40 a carload to go in the park isn't that big of a deal. This would be a seasonal increase, so if you don't want to spend $70 to go to the parks in question simply wait for the months where it is less expensive.

Even at $70 a carload going to the GC is less expensive than taking a family of four to a Diamondbacks game or to the movies. I can easily run a $70 bar tab at brunch on a Sunday morning. The last major rock concert I went to my ticket was about $70 and it put me in the crappy seats. $70 is not that big of a deal.
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flagscott
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by flagscott » Oct 25 2017 6:47 am

SpiderLegs wrote:If you can afford the gas and overpriced hotel rooms anywhere within two hours of the GC, spending an extra $20-$40 a carload to go in the park isn't that big of a deal. This would be a seasonal increase, so if you don't want to spend $70 to go to the parks in question simply wait for the months where it is less expensive.

Even at $70 a carload going to the GC is less expensive than taking a family of four to a Diamondbacks game or to the movies. I can easily run a $70 bar tab at brunch on a Sunday morning. The last major rock concert I went to my ticket was about $70 and it put me in the crappy seats. $70 is not that big of a deal.
You are aware that there are millions of people in the US for whom $70 of spending on a luxury like a national park trip, concert, or brunch bar tab is simply impossible, right?

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SpiderLegs
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by SpiderLegs » Oct 25 2017 7:43 am

flagscott wrote:You are aware that there are millions of people in the US for whom $70 of spending on a luxury like a national park trip, concert, or brunch bar tab is simply impossible, right?
I am more than aware of that. Those people are not driving to visit a national park. Simply putting it into perspective, going to a national park is still less expensive than going to a ball game, the movies or even a meal for four at the Olive Garden. And if $70 is too much, then you go in the off months. I can't afford to spend the night at a luxury resort in Phoenix during the winter, but if I wait until August I can.
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Tough_Boots
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by Tough_Boots » Oct 25 2017 8:15 am

Yeah @SpiderLegs is right on this one. $50 Is not a make or break amount for anyone who is already committed to travel, hotels, campgrounds, etc. For locals, the annual pass is amazing because it's a great excuse not to spend money elsewhere. Have you seen what amusement parks cost these days?

@flagscott
I see what you're saying and appreciate the sentiment. I'd love to not see price hikes-- especially when it's only in peak season. It's reminds me of classist garbage like paid priority queuing or boarding. Though as someone who lives on an income that doesn't always have much wiggle room, I don't feel that price increases are uncalled for.

If we want to complain about federal spending and think money should be budgeted differently to pay for what the parks need, then we need to vote for people who will do that.
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hikeaz
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by hikeaz » Oct 25 2017 11:12 am

chumley wrote:I wonder what percentage of visitors to national parks (even the free ones -- which is the vast majority of them) are below the median income level. Does NPS gather visitation statistics like that?
NOTE: To the overly-sensitive out there.... The graph below is NOT a race comment - merely a bar graph that cannot easily (at least by me) have the income numbers broken out of the photo in order to answer Chums.

Note that a scant 20 percent of N.P. admission fees are being spent on visitor services, and even less on habitat restoration.

"Why aren't tax dollars paying for the bulk of the National Park System's operations and maintenance, and why aren't these entrance fees being used to benefit the visitors through more visitor services and interpretation, and for restoring, if not enhancing, habitat?
The so-called "margin of excellence" investments. After all, the National Park Service Organic Act defines the Park Service's core mandate as conserving "the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations."

Some more fodder (link below) as to the effects of income and other factors in explaining fluctuating NPS visitation. Pay particular attention to pages 157 through 162 for user economic details as they relate to NP visitation.

"Two frequently cited reasons for these declines are our new fascination with video (“videophilia” [Pergams & Zaradic 2006, 2008]) and changing childhood socialization that includes less nature play (Louv 2005). Yet economic factors also may be at work. The growing wealth of the middle class was a prime factor that drove the increasing demand for park visitation during the 1950’s and 60’s. Today, however, middle class incomes have stagnated or declined, while trip costs have grown substantially. The direct price of visiting also has increased with the implementation of user fee programs begun in 1997 (the year of peak visitation), under the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program. "


https://www.nrpa.org/globalassets/journ ... 53-164.pdf
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kurt

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chumley
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by chumley » Oct 25 2017 11:44 am

In these difficult economic times, with Federal budget deficits running well over $100 billion a year, there is more pressure than ever to cut "non essential" Government expenditures and increase revenues. As loath as we in the National Park Service are to admit it, the national parks are a national luxury. Except in certain urban recreation areas, moreover, park visitation is heavily weighted to the middle and upper income segments of the public--people who have the money and leisure to travel, who willingly pay the much greater charges levied at commercial theme parks and other private attractions, and who would be unlikely to forego the national parklands if visitor fees there were raised to levels commensurate with their values. These considerations have inspired recent proposals under both the last Democratic and current Republican administrations to increase entrance and user fees, in effect reducing the extent to which the general taxpayer subsidizes the park goer. These proposals have met with strong opposition in Congress, where key members have led the fight to freeze or hold down direct charges to the visiting public.

At such times of dissension, it is frequently useful to look at how today's issues have been regarded and handled in years and decades past. If ready resolution of the current debate is unlikely to be achieved by such a retrospective examination, at least the matter is put in perspective. Partisans on both sides may be reminded that similar battles have been fought before, that public, political, and administrative opinion has shifted over tine, and that no side has held a perpetual monopoly on wisdom. It is not the purpose of a history like this one to arrive at or even to recommend specific solutions, but rather to provide a broader context within which program managers can address today's concerns.

Barry Mackintosh, History Division
National Park Service
Department of the Interior
Washington, D.C.

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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by outdoor_lover » Oct 25 2017 11:51 am

The only thing that I wonder about with this is the On/Off Season. If they only do the Fee Increase for Peak Times of Year, are more and more People going to start flooding the Parks during the Off-Peak Times? It used to be if you went to one of these Parks after Labor Day, it was pretty Uncrowded. When I did Yellowstone in 2001, we practically had the place to ourselves in Mid Sept. From what I've been told recently, that's no longer the Case and it's quite crowded in Sept. So October is looking more Desirable to hit some of these Places to avoid the Crowds. But now, if it's cheaper to go in Oct, how many more people will wait and go then? The Parks will start becoming more Overcrowded during the whole Year instead of just Peak Times.... Just Thoughts... I really don't care one way or another, I get an Annual Pass.

And @flagscott, I am very low income and although I don't spend 70.00 on "Social" stuff, like Restaurants and Concerts, I will spend it for an Annual Pass. It's about Prioritizing. People can spend 70.00 for a Park if they don't buy that Case of Beer for a month or are willing to cut back on other "little" things. You can Budget for Stuff like this if you know about it in Advance... Or use a Credit Card and pay it over Time if it's that big of a hit on the Wallet... There are ways for Low Income People to afford this if they actually want to do it.... Seniors were raising hell over their Lifetime Pass increase, saying it was a Hardship, while at the same Time, upgrading their 5th Wheels.... My Parents raised 4 Kids on one Income that wasn't much and they still found ways to still take all of us out to dinner once a Year....
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by chumley » Oct 25 2017 12:08 pm

^ That quote was published almost 35 years ago, in 1983.
Read it all here:
https://www.nps.gov/parkhistory/online_ ... /index.htm
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hikeaz
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by hikeaz » Oct 25 2017 12:23 pm

Congress seems to be getting the message after years of complaints.
In ' 16 lawmakers approved $547 million for maintenance in the current N.P. budget year, a $118 million increase over last year. The figure includes spending in the agency’s budget and in the five-year transportation bill Congress approved in December '15.

The NPS is not a top negotiator, either - not by a long shot....For years and years they were collecting just 1% of Annual sales at the Yosemite concessions where sales are about $90-$110 million. All the while the NPS (us, actually) provided all the facilities and lodging.
At GCNP the NPS was spending $1M a year on trail maintenance brought on mostly by the mule concessions who were raking it in annually but 'tipping' the Park just $100,000 annually.
I would say it would be prudent that before we allocate them MORE money, that they prove they can handle what they are currently entrusted with. You know, kinda like most or all of did with our kids.
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chumley
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by chumley » Oct 25 2017 2:04 pm

For lower income Americans whom National Park entrance fees provide an undue hardship, the NPS provides 10 annual fee-free days as well as a free annual pass to any 4th grade child (including the 4th graders family).

https://www.nps.gov/planyourvisit/fee-free-parks.htm
https://www.everykidinapark.gov/

Both are among the best deals going!

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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by rcorfman » Oct 25 2017 2:16 pm

@hikeaz
I don't follow the picture with the two bar graphs. In the first, for Demographics, the bars add up to 138%. In the second, for Income, the bars add up to 164%. Are the graphs out of whack or am I missing something?
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chumley
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by chumley » Oct 25 2017 3:08 pm

@rcorfman
The text that accompanied the graph gives it some context:
(The actual breakdown of self-reported visitation is 78% white, 9% Hispanic, 7% African American, 3% Asian, 1% Native. I can't find the original Hart Research poll, so I don't know WHO they polled. I'd guess it was only Americans or else the percentage of Asian visitors would likely be higher simply due to the large number of international tourists who visit the parks.)
In the January 2016 Hart Research poll, 55 percent of all respondents self-reported that they had visited a national park, monument, or other area in the past three years, but only 32 percent of African American respondents and 47 percent of Hispanic respondents said the same thing. Fifty-nine percent of white respondents, meanwhile, said they had visited the National Park System in the past three years. NPS’ most recent visitation survey on racial and ethnic diversity, taken in 2009, shows similar discrepancies. The survey found that 78 percent of park visitors were white, while only 9 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were African American, 3 percent were Asian, and 1 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native, well below their representation in the U.S. population.
According to the Hart Research poll, only 39 percent of Americans with incomes below $40,000 reported visiting the National Park System in the past three years. However, that number shoots up to 59 percent and 66 percent for those with incomes from $40,000 to $75,000 and more than $75,000, respectively.

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toddak
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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by toddak » Oct 25 2017 3:38 pm

I'm happy to pay park entrance fees, do it all the time. That being said, if I happen to drive through the Grand Canyon entrance station real early in the morning and they're not open yet, I might consider skipping the self-pay kiosk.

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Re: Proposed NPS entrance fee increase during peak seasons

Post by trekkin_gecko » Oct 25 2017 4:10 pm

Fee is currently $30
I think $70 is too much
I could see an increase to $50

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