House Committee Poised To Rewrite National Park Fee Authority

A much anticipated hearing before the House Natural Resource Committee arrives October 28, 2015, and the outcome could be higher fees for national park visitors.

Among the potential outcomes outlined in the draft legislation written by U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, (R-UT): motorcyclists and snowmobilers in national parks would face the same entrance fees charged motorists; shuttle buses such as those in Zion and Acadia national parks that now are free to ride might require a paid ticket, and; “destination” visitor centers or interpretive centers on national forest lands could charge a fee for entrance.

However, if Congress does not pass the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Modernization Act beyond the current law’s scheduled expiration date of October 2017, fees collected by the National Park Service would go directly to the U.S. Treasury, not to the Park Service for use in the National Park System.

Along with requiring the land-management agencies to seek public comment on proposed fee increases, as currently is done, the measure if enacted would require the agencies to seek comment from gateway communities as well.

Foreign visitors would no longer be able to purchase an America the Beautiful – the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass under the legislation. Too, the cost of the passes, currently $80 for most, would be recalculated every three years to reflect changes in the Consumer Price index. Language in the measure also would give the Interior secretary the authority to provide passes free to members of the U.S. military.

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