National parks to rethink plan to hike entrance fees after widespread anger

The Department of the Interior said that it planned to revise a controversial proposal to drastically increase entrance fees at some of the most popular national parks in the country.

The interior department press secretary, Heather Swift, said the Trump administration decided to rethink its proposal after Americans flooded the National Park Service (NPS) with more than 100,000 comments, many of them sharply critical of the proposed surge pricing scheme.

In October, the interior secretary, Ryan Zinke, announced a plan to hike entrance fees as high as $70 at 17 different parks – including the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Glacier – during peak visitation season. Zinke justified the fee increase as a way to raise revenue and help the NPS tackle its roughly $12bn deferred maintenance backlog.

“During the public comment period, the National Park Service received more than 109,000 comments on the original peak-season fee proposal,” Swift wrote in an email. “We’ve taken the public’s suggestions seriously and have amended the plan to reflect those.”

“It seems to be par for the course at the interior department to shoot first and ask questions later,” says Aaron Weiss, media director at the Center for Western Priorities, a conservation organization based in Colorado. “We are glad that interior is realizing what a terrible idea it would be to hike entrance fees by that amount. It would hurt American families and have a harmful effect on overall attendance at national parks.”

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