Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) joined with leading outdoor enthusiasts and small businesses to call on the Trump Administration and Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke to withdraw the National Park Service's (NPS) proposal to nearly triple national park entrance fees.
On October 24, the National Park Service announced a proposal to almost triple the peak season entrance fees at 17 of the most popular national parks. Beginning in 2018, fees to enter these parks during the 5-most-popular months would jump from $25-$30 to $70 per vehicle. The entrance fee increases would impact: Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Olympic, Sequoia & Kings Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Acadia, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain, Shenandoah, and Joshua Tree National Parks.
"We are here today because the Park Service plans to almost triple the entrance fees at the 17 most visited and most iconic national parks across the country -- including Mt. Rainier and Olympic," said Senator Cantwell. "As corporate tax breaks are also being discussed, I don't know why park fees then have to be raised. To me this price increase is unconscionable."
According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation is a major economic driver. In Washington state alone, outdoor recreation accounts for more than 201,000 direct jobs, $26.2 billion in annual consumer spending, $7.6 billion in wages and salaries, and $2.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.
"With the Park Service Centennial just last year, we have begun a big conversation about how to get more people into the parks -- and more people enjoying the outdoor economy. Increasing the fee, is not exactly what I think will do that. These are wonderful places, and they are public lands, and should be affordable for everyone," said Senator Cantwell.
During the event, REI released a statement saying, "REI stands firmly by our longstanding, nonpartisan view of the outdoors. For 80 years, we have worked with leaders from both parties to protect America's iconic outdoor places and create access to transformative outdoor experiences."
The fee increases proposed by Secretary Zinke will price out many visitors and deny American families, veterans, young people, and seniors the opportunity to visit and experience some of our nation's most popular and iconic national parks.