Conservationists Warn National Park Fee Could Pave Way For Commercial Use

Published: Monday, October 30, 2017 - 12:34pm
Updated: Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 11:01am

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's claim that more than doubling park entry fees to $70 during peak seasons will help boost national park revenue is, in part, correct.

But, Sandy Bahr, with the Sierra Club's Grand Canyon Chapter sees the agency playing two sides against the middle.

"[Zinke] and the Trump administration are considering significantly cutting the park's budget and cutting over a thousand park employees," she stressed, referring to the president's 2018 budget plan to cut almost $400 million from the parks. "So, this just doesn't add up. You have to look at the full picture here."

Perhaps, a clearer picture can be seen in a letter leaked from the Department of Interior's office late last week, which stressed the new administration's need for "energy dominance," over the next five years and a focus to find it under "vast amounts of untapped energy reserves on public lands."

Bahr warned doubling the fee hike will create apathy for those who can no longer afford to visit.

"People love what they know," she said, "And, if they don't experience the parks, it's harder for them to speak up when there are attacks on their resources."

Public input on the plan ends in less than four weeks. The last proposed fee hike gave the public seven months to weigh in.

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