Park Service plans higher fees at some parks through 2009

Monday, May 7, 2007

WASHINGTON -- Entrance fees are due to rise at many national parks over the next three summers, though a public outcry over specific increases could cause the government to reconsider.

A few increases have already taken effect.

Through 2009, the National Park Service plans to phase in higher rates for annual park passes and fees paid per vehicle or person at about 130 of the 390 parks, monuments and other areas the agency manages.

The government does not collect any fees at the other two-thirds of sites in the park system.

The Park Service, which has planned the increases for some time, did not publicize the higher fees through its headquarters in Washington, leaving that job to site managers, agency spokesman David Barna said Sunday.

The intention was to let affected communities absorb the news and see if they would go along with the increases. Park superintendents can recommend that the agency director, Mary Bomar, rescind the increases if enough people protest. One such place where there has been an outcry is at Yosemite in California, which is in line for an increase in 2008.

By this summer, higher entrance fees will be in effect at 11 parks.

The fee increases are in line with a consultant's recommendation that the parks should charge fees according to four categories based on size, amount of services offered and other factors.

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