The Trump administration has proposed steep increases in the entrance fees of many of the nation's most popular national parks.
Under the proposal, during peak season, cars entering Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion, or 13 other parks would have to pay $70, up from a fee of just $25 to $30 now. Hikers and bikers entering the park would pay $30, up from current fees of $10 to $15.
"The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration," Ryan Zinke, secretary of the Department of the Interior said in a statement Tuesday. The extra fees, according to the National Park Service, "would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks."
The NPS expects to raise $70 million a year from the fees, but critics say that the plan to raise revenue could backfire. "They are thinking they are going to get the same number of visitors, but if you more than double the entrance fee, you aren't going to get the same number of visitors. The gateway communities are very dependent on tourist trade," Tuolumne County Supervisor John Gray, whose district includes Yosemite National Park, told the Mercury News.
Others argue the restoration costs should not fall on visitors. "We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places—protected for all Americans to experience—unaffordable for some families to visit," Theresa Pierno, president and chief executive officer of National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, in his budget proposal, President Donald Trump called for deep cuts from the Department of the Interior, which includes the NPS, totaling $1.5 billion. "The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs," Pierno said. "If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog."