Guest Opinion - National Park Service extends comment period following Senator’s request

By: 
MARCIE KINZEL

 

 

On Nov. 14, U.S. Senator Steve Daines sent a letter to the Acting Director of the National Park Service, Mike Reynolds, asking for an extension of the public comment period for fee increases at 17 National Parks. This week Daines was notified of a 30-day extension to the comment period.

The National Park Service had announced it is considering raising the entrance fees during peak season for 17 National Parks, including Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park in Montana. Under the proposal, the price per vehicle will be raised from $30 to $70; the price per person from $15 to $30; and the park specific annual pass from $50 (Glacier) and $60 (Yellowstone) to $75. 

“Glacier and Yellowstone National Park – are national treasures that belong to Montanans and Americans across the country” said Daines. “Fee increases of this magnitude could prohibit families from enjoying the great outdoors and need to be considered carefully. Their voices must be heard and our National Parks must remain accessible to all Americans.”

 

The letter Daines sent to the Park Service read as follows:

Mike Reynolds

Acting Director

National Park Service

1849 C Street NW

Washington, D.C. 20240-0001

 

RE: Request for Extension of Comment Period for the Proposed Entrance Fee Increase and Changes to Commercial Use Authorizations at 17 National Parks

 

Dear Mr. Reynolds:

 

We write to request an additional 30-day extension of the public comment period for both the proposed targeted fee increases at 17 National Parks and the proposed changes to road-based commercial tour commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements and fees, which is set to close on November 23, 2017. Given the large volume of responses from Montanans and constituents across the United States, and the impact of this new policy, it is important that you provide more than thirty days for the public to participate in the comment periods on these issues.  

 

Although I respect the National Park Service’s attempt to find solutions to the deferred maintenance backlog, raising entrance fees to this degree could unfairly burden the public and create new barriers to the visitors that you hope to reach and inspire. Likewise, the many small business owners and operators that will be impacted by increased CUA operator fees need to be provided an opportunity to assess the implications of this new policy on their businesses, employees, and customers.  

 

I know we all believe that our National Parks are treasures that must be accessible to everyone. Given the concerns with these new proposals, it is my hope that the Park Service will provide Montanans and all Americans the opportunity for additional time to comment on this issue. Thank you again for consideration of this matter and I look forward to working with you on this issue moving forward.

 

Senator Steve Daines is Chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks. Marcie Kinzel is the senior policy advisor and communications director for Senator Daines.

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