Cantwell Presses Zinke For Clarity On Proposed Fee Hikes

Secretary Zinke has cited, “the elderly, fourth graders, veterans, and disabled,” as a rationale for the fee increases.

April 5, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) wrote to Secretary Zinke requesting he immediately withdraw his proposal to dramatically increase national park entrance fees.

In the letter, the Senator said, "I urge you to withdraw the proposed fee increases immediately and begin a transparent, public process that takes into account public input and fully analyzes the impact on park visitation and local park economies before seeking to impose any other fee increases." 

“The National Park Service described the fee increases “as part of its commitment to improve the visitor experience…” I am unable to see how doubling or tripling a park entrance fee is anything other than an effort to exclude many Americans from enjoying their national parks,said Senator Cantwell.

“During the March 13 hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, you testified that one reason fees needed to be increased was “when you give discounted or free passes to the elderly, fourth graders, veterans, disabled, and you do it by the carload, there’s not a whole lot of people that actually pay at our front door.” I strongly disagree with the view that fee discounts for specific groups is a legitimate rationale to significantly raise fees on the general public,” said Senator Cantwell in the letter.

“Your October 24 fee increase proposal was announced without providing the public with any analysis of the effect on visitation used to justify the proposed fees.  Failure to have a transparent process in developing fee policy will result in continued public opposition,” said Senator Cantwell.  “And failing to fully analyze the impact of fee increases on visitation and local park economies will result in fees that are arbitrary and unjustifiable.”

The letter concludes stating, “I urge you to immediately withdraw the proposed park fee increases and instead undertake a transparent and public process that will ensure that all Americans have affordable access to their national parks.”

The full letter can be read here.