“There is nothing so American as our national parks. The scenery and wildlife are native. The fundamental idea behind the parks is native. It is, in brief, that the country belongs to the people, that it is in the process of making for the enrichment of the lives of all of us. The parks stand as the outward symbol of this great human principle.”
Our national parks are an incredible resource. They allow us to preserve iconic and valuable natural areas and provide an opportunity for everyone to appreciate the natural wonders of our nation. Many of our national parks also allow visitors to enjoy magnificent waterways. For so many Americans, access to unspoiled wilderness and waterways would be unattainable without these easily accessible public treasures.
Unfortunately, a proposal by the U.S. Department of Interior could make visits to some of our most beloved national parks unaffordable for many Americans. Currently, the Department of the Interior is considering raising entrance fees for some of the most visited parks—in some cases, as high as $70! This change betrays the very reason the parks were created—so that every person, regardless of wealth, can see and experience the wild beauty of our nation. It also could hurt the communities around the United States whose economies rely on visitors to national parks.
This fee hike is proposed as a solution to maintenance needs at the parks and a National Park Service budget shortfall. However, there is strong evidence that the fee increase would do little to fix these problems, especially considering the administration’s proposal to slash the National Park Service’s budget. This plan seems even more ridiculous considering that the Interior Department recently repealed rules that would have made coal companies that mine public land pay higher royalties to taxpayers. Fossil fuel companies also are able to lease public land for oil and gas drilling for less than $2 an acre per year. Requiring fossil fuel companies to pay a fairer price would do far more to create federal revenue than shaking down families trying to visit our national parks.
The comment period for the proposed fee hike is open until December 22, 2017. Please speak out for the ability of all people, regardless of wealth, to be able to enjoy the lands that belong to all of us. We have created a template that you can use to get started:
Dear Secretary Zinke:
I oppose the U.S. Department of Interior’s proposal to increase entrance fees at some of our national parks. A fee of up to $70 to visit a park for the day would be cost-prohibitive for many families. Making national parks inaccessible for lower-income people would betray our values and the goal of our national parks system – to allow everyone, regardless of wealth, to be able to visit and experience the natural wonders of our nation.
There is also evidence that increasing entrance fees will not make up for the National Park Service’s budget shortfall. Instead of raising national park fees, and making national parks inaccessible to many low-income families, I am asking you to advocate for adequate funding for the National Park Service. The Interior Department should also close loopholes that allow fossil fuel companies to cheaply drill and mine on public lands, losing valuable federal revenue that could be used to maintain our national parks.
Please do not approve this proposed entrance fee increase.
Please personalize your message with information on why accessible national parks are important to you!
Photo Credit: NPS/Mark Lellouch