Letters to the Editor

Park fees: Public lands shouldn't be country clubs

“Park agency seeks higher fees to whittle maintenance backlog,” (TNT, 10/27).

The Trump Administration proposed a 12 percent budget cut to the National Park Service. It now proposes a fee increase at 17 national parks during peak seasons to generate $70 million a year in revenue for $11.3 billion in deferred maintenance.

The entrance fees at Mount Rainier and Olympic would go up from $25 to $70 during this period. Given the scale of the backlog, fees alone cannot solve the challenge. This proposal will increase the disparity in terms of who is able to access our national parks.

The NPS runs the risk of becoming guardians of country clubs, playgrounds for the wealthy who can afford a visit. It promotes the gentrification of the national parks.

Now fortunately a bipartisan measure, the National Park Service Legacy Act with lead sponsors Reps. Derek Kilmer and Dave Reichert, along with Sen. Patty Murray, would fund high-priority deferred maintenance needs in parks.

Congress must provide a sustainable source of funding along with a reasonable fee structure for public access. We need to ensure our children and grandchildren have the continued opportunity to experience our rich history in these places, and to learn more about the people and lands that have shaped our nation.

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