The Department of Interior has backed off a steep increase in entrance fees to large national parks like Glacier National Park in favor of a more modest $5 increase in weekly fees for vehicles and a $10 increase in the annual Park pass.
Under the new fee schedule, Glacier Park 7-day entrance fees per vehicle will rise to $35 starting June 1.
The annual park pass will rise to $70 on June 1. It was $50.
Per person fees will rise from $15 to $20 for folks who walk into the Park; and motorcycles will go from $25 to $30.
The lower fee schedule comes after the DOI saw a public outcry after Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke proposed raising fees to $70 per week for a single car during the peak season for large parks like Glacier.
Zinke, at first, said the funds would go toward the maintenance backlog at national parks, but during an interview this spring, he said the idea was to give parks like Glacier more funding, because most of the entrance fee that’s collected by the park, stays in the park.
Park Service wide, the fees are expected to raise about $60 million.
“From the moment the administration made its proposal to triple fees at some of America’s most popular national parks, many businesses, gateway communities, governors, tourism groups, conservation organizations and the public have said this was the wrong solution for parks’ repair needs. The public spoke, and the administration listened,” Theresa Pierno, President and CEO
of the National Parks Conservation Association, a parks advocacy group, said. “Fees do have a role to play in our parks, and the administration’s move to abandon its original proposal in favor of more measured fee increases will put additional funds into enhancing park experiences without threatening visitation or local economies. Despite this welcomed move, fees alone will not solve parks’ repair challenges. The recent omnibus spending bill included more funding for national parks and park repairs for fiscal year 2018, a move in the right direction Congress and the administration should continue. Congress should commit to increasing park funding in future spending bills. It also needs to go one important step further by enacting legislation like the National Park Service Legacy Act that would make substantial, sustainable and dependable investments in our parks. With these efforts, we will ensure parks can continue to welcome visitors for generations to come.”
The Legacy Act would used unused offshore oil and gas drilling royalty revenues to fund deferred maintenance projects in Glacier and other parks across the nation.
Montana Republican Sen. Steve Daines is a co-sponsor of the bill.