Backing Interior Away from Steep National Park Fee Hike
Yosemite. Yellowstone. Grand Canyon. Zion. These national parks are iconic symbols of the beauty of the United States, and our dedication to protecting our landmarks. Since their creation in the late 19th century, national parks have become a central part of the American experience—for Americans and international visitors.
And for good reason. The National Park Service (NPS) designates and preserves our lands, creates equal access to the outdoors for all Americans, and ensures these natural spaces will exist far into the future-not just for latter generations, but also for the integrity of the land itself.
What’s not to like? Maybe paying $70 to take your family on a visit.
In October of 2017, NPS proposed a controversial idea: increase entry fees at 17 most visited national parks in the U.S., with fees at the most popular parks jumping from $30 to $70.
Despite proposing to cut the National Park Service (NPS) budget by $400 million, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had the audacity to claim that discounted fees for veterans and the disabled were to blame for billions of backlog in maintenance costs. Instead of funding our parks, Trump and Zinke tried to force people to pay twice the amount they were paying before.
The idea of pricing millions of Americans out of visiting our beloved spaces is wholly un-American. Zinke’s decision prioritizes the elite over the general public, and further undermines the challenges facing low-income families and individuals. National parks should be for everyone, and affordability should not be a deterrent.
Such excessive costs not only make visiting national parks less affordable for many, they set a terrible precedent: that only those Americans who can afford to pay a premium can visit the lands set aside for all of us.
Naturally, outdoor enthusiasts and families everywhere were upset by the announcement.
National parks should be for everyone, and affordability should not be a deterrent.
Friends of the Earth and our activists and members stood up for the rights of the American people to affordably access spaces we all care about. Our members flooded the NPS comment period with over 54,000 messages forcefully rejecting these excessive price hikes.
Now, the NPS under the Trump Administration is backing away from their own demands. Thanks to the near universal opposition voiced by concerned citizens just like you, the Department of Interior isopting for a more moderate fee hike of just $5.
This move away from such a steep price increase is a victory for parkgoers everywhere.
Low fees ensure our national treasures do not become playgrounds for the affluent alone: national parks are an honored American legacy–precisely because they ensure access regardless of income level, race or demographic.
Forcing the Trump administration to backtrack on their questionable agenda shows just how powerful your activism can be.
You spoke up, and Secretary Zinke and the Department of the Interior were forced to listen.