State Attorneys General fight against plan to increase fees at National Parks

Yosemite National Park visitors gather at a viewing spot for Half Dome shrouded by smoke from nearby fires in July

Yosemite National Park visitors gather at a viewing spot for Half Dome shrouded by smoke from nearby fires in July

The attorneys general urged the Service to scrap the proposed fee increases and instead seek adequate funding from U.S. Congress and support existing bipartisan legislative proposals, such as the National Park Service Legacy Act, which would provide more revenues for national parks without increasing park fees.

Visitors would be charged $70 per vehicle, up from the current $30 fee, during the five busiest months of the year.

Proposed increases would affect 17 national parks during peak tourist seasons - mostly during summer months. "All Americans should have access to these lands, especially communities that the service's surveys show have often been underrepresented, including inner city children and Hispanic-American and African-American populations".

Becerra said the fee increase would greatly impact modest-income families.

A group of 11 US state attorneys general said in a letter Wednesday that they oppose the plan to significantly increase visitor fees for the country's 17 popular national parks. The entrance fees for motorcycles would go from $25 to $50. Visitors on foot or bicycle would pay $30, up from the $10 to $15. If approved, the increases will go into effect in 2018.

The parks affected by new fees would include Yosemite, Joshua Tree, Yellowstone, Zion, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

"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", Zinke said in a statement. They also question the rationale, saying President Donald Trump has proposed reducing the service's overall budget. However, the NPS extended it until December 22. "For every dollar the punitive fee increase raises from families, the Trump Administration intends to cut more than 4 dollars from the National Park Service's budget", Becerra said in a statement.

The AGs say the increase is inconsistent with the laws governing the park system.

The NPS argues a fee hike is needed to address the agency's maintenance backlog, valued at $12 billion.

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