If you're visiting a national park in 2018, start saving now

Wednesday , October 25, 2017 - 4:30 AM2 comments

STANDARD-EXAMINER EDITORIAL BOARD

Planning on visiting Utah’s national parks next summer?

Start saving now, because the National Park Service is considering a proposal to more than double entrance fees.

First, Interior Secretary Ron Zinke recommends shrinking six national monuments, including two in Utah — Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante. Now the government wants to raise the price of admission to Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches and Canyonlands.

It’s as if the Interior Department doesn’t want Americans visiting national parks.

  • RELATED: “US considers higher entry fees at 17 popular national parks”

Zinke pitched the increases as a way to rebuild park infrastructure.

"We need to have a vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids' grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today," Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement. "Shoring up our parks' aging infrastructure will do that."

So, in an effort to raise $70 million a year, Zinke wants visitors to pay double — or more — to visit 17 parks.

Visiting Zion and Bryce Canyon now costs $30 per vehicle. Entrance to Arches and Canyonlands is $25.

Zinke thinks that’s too cheap, especially with parks breaking attendance records. He wants $70 per vehicle.

At that price, the nation’s public lands become unaffordable for some Americans.

Jose Gonzalez, founder of Latino Outdoors, worries about the impact of higher entry fees.

"If there isn't always a question or consideration of equitable access to a lot of communities, it's only going to increase the disparity in terms of who is able to access our national parks and public lands," he told a reporter for The Associated Press.

President Trump proposed cutting $400 million from the National Park Service in 2018. Leave the money intact, and the need for higher fees goes away.

A 30-day comment period started Tuesday on the National Park Service website. If an admission fee increase of up to 180 percent would price you out of America’s national parks, Zinke needs to know.

Our public lands belong to all Americans — not just the wealthy.

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