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National Park entry fee increase would reduce the maintenance backlog. In 161 years

Visitors enjoy the paved trails around Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. The National Park Service is proposing raising fees at Mount Rainier and 16 other parks to help clear a maintenance backlog.
Visitors enjoy the paved trails around Paradise at Mount Rainier National Park. The National Park Service is proposing raising fees at Mount Rainier and 16 other parks to help clear a maintenance backlog. The News Tribune file

The National Park Service’s proposed increase of entry fees is intended to reduce the backlog of maintenance projects in the nation’s parks.

It would do that — in 161 years.

That’s according to an analysis by the Washington Post.

If approved, the entrance fees would be as steep as the slopes at Mount Rainier, Olympic and 15 other parks during their most popular months.

At Washington state’s two parks — Rainier and Olympic — the current $25 entry fee would nearly triple to $70.

That’s the cost of one vehicle to enter, plus the driver and any number of passengers.

According to the NPS the total deferred maintenance backlog is $11.3 billion. Of that, $393 million is in Washington state. Both Olympic and Rainier had $152 million in non-funded projects each.

The proposed fee increase would generate $70 million a year, according to the NPS.

At that rate, it would take more than 161 years to erase the $11.3 billion deficit.

That doesn’t take into account the Trump administration’s proposed $296.6 million budget cut for the NPS.

Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, has introduced a bill that would distribute oil and gas revenue the government receives in to a restoration fund.

The National Park Service Legacy Act would establish the fund through 2047. Transportation projects would receive 20 percent of the fund with the rest going to visitor facilities, employee housing, utility systems and other needs.

Craig Sailor: 253-597-8541, @crsailor

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