Fees to enter 17 national parks, including Olympic National Park, are being eyed for increases in 2018 to help with what the National Park Service (NPS) says is a backlog of deferred maintenance …
Fees to enter 17 national parks, including Olympic National Park, are being eyed for increases in 2018 to help with what the National Park Service (NPS) says is a backlog of deferred maintenance projects.
If approved, starting May 1 of next year, the cost of an annual pass would go from $50 to $75. And for peak season – from May to September – fees would be: $70, instead of the current $25, to enter with a vehicle; $30, instead of the current $10, for a person to enter on bike or foot; and $50, instead of $20, to enter by motorcycle.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” said U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke in a press release.
“Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting,” Zinke wrote. “We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today. Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”
$152 MILLION IN PROJECTS
Penny Wagner, public information officer for Olympic National Park, said there is an estimated $152,227,794 in costs for deferred maintenance projects throughout the park.
“That’s a significant amount of deferred maintenance. We have quite a number of projects that are reflected in that,” Wagner said.
The five high-priority deferred maintenance projects are: Barnes Point wastewater treatment plant, Log Cabin wastewater treatment plant, Kalaloch water system, Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center rehab and Sol Duc Road, she said.
Wagner said she did not have a document that listed all of the projects that are needed. She also said there’s no way to know how much money could be raised from a fee increase and whether there would be a drop-off in use with those increased fees.
In 2016, the Olympic National Park recorded 3.39 million visitors. Wagner noted that it’s not necessary to go through an entrance station to access some areas of the park.
Wagner did not know whether the fees would be permanent. Officials in the Washington, D.C., office could not be reached for comment by press deadline on Tuesday.
“The most important thing for people to focus on right now, whether you are for it or against it, is to comment on it,” Wagner said, urging people to go online to read the proposal and press release from the NPS. (See link)
The Olympic National Park’s budget for last year was $12.88 million, Wagner said.
A 30-day comment period on the fee hike proposal ends Nov. 23.
Olympic National Park comprises 628,115 acres and includes parts of Jefferson, Clallam, Mason and Grays Harbor counties.
Other national parks where there is a reported backlog of projects and a need to increase fees are: Mount Rainier National Park, Acadia National Park, Arches National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Denali National Park, Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Joshua Tree National Park, Rocky Mountain National Park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, Shenandoah National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park and Zion National Park.