57°F
weather icon Clear

National Park Service announces fee hikes for parks

Updated April 12, 2018 - 4:10 pm

Instead of doubling entrance fees at select high-traffic sites, the National Park Service announced plans Thursday to spread the pain systemwide.

Starting June 1, all 117 fee-collecting parks will charge an extra $5 for admission, including Lake Mead, Death Valley, Grand Canyon, Zion and other park sites in the Las Vegas vicinity.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area will see its seven-day entry fee go from $20 to $25 for passenger vehicles, from $15 to $20 for motorcycles, and from $10 to $15 for individuals on foot, bicycle or horseback.

The fee increase does not apply to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is operated by the Bureau of Land Management, or Great Basin National Park, which doesn’t charge for admission.

The price for the Lifetime Senior Pass and the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass will remain $80.

In October, the park service proposed a dramatic, peak-season fee increase at some of its busiest and most iconic parks to fund improvements and boost revenue for the cash-strapped system.

Under the plan, entrance fees would have more than doubled to $70 per vehicle, $50 per motorcycle and $30 per person during the busiest five months at 17 parks, including Grand Canyon in Arizona; Joshua Tree, Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Yosemite in California; and Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah.

Park service officials said they switched to an across-the-board increase in response to public comments on the original plan, which was blasted by conservation groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Forecast to raise $60 million

Once fully implemented, the fee increase is expected to bring in an additional $60 million to a parks system that collected $199 million in entrance fees in 2016.

According to the Department of Interior, the nation’s 417 parks, monuments and historic and cultural sites need an estimated $11.6 billion to clear their growing list of deferred maintenance projects.

All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain with the park service, with at least 80 percent of the money staying in the park where it is collected.

“An investment in our parks is an investment in America,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a written statement announcing the fee hike. “Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality.”

Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, applauded the administration for listening to the public and abandoning its original proposal.

The “more measured fee increases” will generate much-needed funds “without threatening visitation or local economies,” Pierno said, but more action is needed.

Increased funding urged

“Congress should commit to increasing park funding in future spending bills,” she said. “It also needs to go one important step further by enacting legislation like the National Park Service Legacy Act that would make substantial, sustainable and dependable investments in our parks.”

Zinke said the Trump administration​ is currently working with lawmakers on proposed legislation that would earmark some revenue from energy development on federal land for “National Park restoration.”

The move has drawn criticism from some conservation groups because it could make park improvements contingent on controversial and potentially destructive oil, gas and coal development.

The National Park system has seen record visitation in recent years, spurred in part by the service’s centennial celebration in 2016.

Last year, almost 330.9 million people visited the 379 park service sites that reported attendance figures. That was roughly 89,000 shy of the record of just under 331 million visitors set the previous year.

Contact Henry Brean at hbrean @reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0350. Follow @RefriedBrean on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Accused murder mastermind Frank LaPena is granted a pardon - VIDEO
A onetime Las Vegas casino bell captain who spent 25 years in prison as the accused mastermind in a notorious 1974 contract murder won his last legal battle for freedom Wednesday when the state Pardons Board granted him a conditional pardon restoring all his civil rights. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Middle: Nonpartisan voters and the 2020 election
How will the growing segment of nonpartisan or independent voters — those who have not registered with either political party, or who have left partisan politics behind — vote in 2020?
Tomi Lahren Speaks at UNLV - VIDEO
Fox News contributor and UNLV alumna Tomi Lahren returned to campus Wednesday night for a speech, titled “Stay Triggered,” that drew an auditorium of supporters as well as a group of protesters outside. (James Schaeffer/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders released from Las Vegas hospital - VIDEO
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., issues a statement after he was released from Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center on Friday, Oct. 4, 2019, after suffering a heart attack earlier in the week. (Bernie Sanders via Twitter)
Democratic presidential candidates speak on impeachment - VIDEO
Democratic presidential candidates attending the March for Our Lives/Giffords Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas comment on possible impeachment proceedings. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden Las Vegas Rally Highlights - VIDEO
2020 presidential candidate, Joe Biden, came to Las Vegas to talk guns, climate change and the Ukranian-Trump scandal. Biden was interrupted by a protestor who sat amongst supporters at the rally and continued with his speech. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Joe Biden comments on Trump and his campaign efforts in Nevada - VIDEO
After an impeachment inquiry was opened on Donald Trump, Joe Biden talks with Review-Journal politics reporter Rory Appleton about Trump and his campaign in Nevada. (Angus Kelly & James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bernie Sanders Unveils Affordable Housing Plan - Video
Bernie Sanders sits down with the Las Vegas Review-Journal to talk about his new affordable housing plan he unveiled at Plumbers & Pipefitters.
Jim Marchant talks gun control and Dreamers - Video
Republican Candidate for District 4 Jim Marchant talks about gun control and immigration policies. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Hurricanes, Gender, and Science in the Press
Imagine if the mainstream media’s current hurricane-sized obsession with scientific accuracy applied to gender.
Cory Booker on college tuition and minimum wage
Cory Booker talks on the RJ Politics podcast about college debt, informing workers about their rights and livable wages.
Nevada Politics Today: Teacher raises - VIDEO
Jason Goudie, the chief financial officer for the Clark County School District, talks about teacher pay and raises. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
White House budget official offers impeachment testimony

House impeachment investigators met in private Saturday with a White House budget official as the historic inquiry produces new testimony.