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Trump Plan To Raise Fees At National Parks Sparks Complaints | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Government Spending: When the Department of the Interior announced plans to hike entrance fees to national parks, it sparked outrage from Trump administration critics. But higher user fees are the right way to go, for a number of reasons.

Interior says it plans to boost entrance fees at 17 popular parks to $70 per car from the current $30. The higher rates would only kick in during the parks’ five-month peak season.

The former parks superintendent, among many others, decried the move, saying it went against the “democratic idea” of the parks because “it is a huge increase and is going to be a real deterrent for many people to visit national parks.”

That’s hardly the case. For one thing, $70 to visit one of the prized national parks is hardly an extravagant fee at a time when a ticket to a baseball game costs $76 dollars on the secondary market, and when tickets to Disneyland are more than $90.

But beyond that, just getting to most national parks is an expensive endeavor.

A University of Washington study found that the 292 million visitors to national parks spent nearly $16 billion in the areas around those parks in 2014. But entrance fees to national parks raised only about $140 million that same year, according to a separate analysis by the Government Accountability Office.

In other words, park visitors spent 114 times as much money on lodging, eating out, camping, buying gas, groceries and souvenirs than they spent getting into the parks themselves.

As Margaret Walls, writing for the nonpartisan Resources for the Future, put it: “The entrance fee is a drop in the travel expense bucket.”

Meanwhile, parks are increasingly overcrowded, putting worrisome stress on them.

A lengthy article in Yale Environment 360 says that “the growing crowds at national parks have become unmanageable, jeopardizing the natural experience the parks were created to provide.”

The article quotes Joan Anzelmo, a retired National Park Service superintendent, as saying that “we have to protect (national parks) by putting some strategic limits on numbers, or there won’t be anything left. Nobody will want to visit them.”

If anything, the park service isn’t raising peak-time fees enough to make a meaningful difference in the demand.

What’s more, the park service currently has a nearly $12 billion maintenance backlog, almost of all of which is to fix things for the people visiting the parks. About half the backlog ($5.9 billion), is for road repairs inside the parks. Another $2 billion is for park buildings, and half a billion is for water and sewage systems.

These repairs aren’t to keep Old Faithful running or feed the animals — but to accommodate the multitudes of humans visiting the parks. It makes perfect sense for the users to pick up more of that tab, rather than sticking it to everyone else.

This is just common sense, which unfortunately is in short supply these days.


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