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State Attorneys General fight against plan to increase fees at National Parks

State Attorneys General fight against plan to increase fees at National Parks

The National Park Service has extended the public comment period for a proposed fee hike in over a dozen national parks including Yellowstone and Grand Teton.

Under the fee increase vehicle entrance fees during the five-month peak season would increase to $70 from $25 or $30.

"We can not let the most popular and awe-inspiring national parks become places only for the wealthy. All Americans should have access to these lands, especially communities that the Service's surveys show have often been underrepresented, including inner city children and Hispanic-American and African American populations", they said.

Becerra said the fee increase would greatly impact modest-income families.

"Although we respect the National Park Service's attempt to find solutions for the deferred maintenance backlog, raising entrance fees to this degree could unfairly burden the public and create new barriers to the visitors that you hope to reach and inspire", the senators wrote on November 14. Pedestrian, bicycle and motorcycle entrance fees would double in price. Individual entry fees would go up from $15 to $30.

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If the fees are approved, the NPS estimates the increase could generate as much as $70 million. Led by Zinke, the National Park Service proposed the increase last month - a move aimed at addressing a $11.3 billion deferred maintenance backlog for deteriorating buildings, restrooms, roads, trails, bridges and campgrounds.

California is home to some of the 17 parks slated for the increase, including Yosemite, Joshua Tree and Sequoia & Kings Canyon.

The AGs say the increase is inconsistent with the laws governing the park system.

"The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration", Zinke said in an October 24 statement.

Petitioners include California Attorney General Xavier Becerra and 10 other attorneys general of Arizona, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington. The new deadline is Friday, Dec. 22. The NPS said it would help pay for a backlog of maintenance for parks. It is not known whether the same thing would happen if fees are raised again.


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