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Entrance fees for some of America’s most popular natural wonders set to increase to $70

Admittance fees for seeing some of America’s greatest natural wonders could reach $70 (£53). 

The National Park Service (NPS) announced it would nearly double the fees to enter popular parks to help pay for infrastructure improvements.

Visitors with vehicles would pay the $70 fee. Current costs are around $25-30 for entry. Those on foot or bicycle pay $10 to $15 for entry, that would increase to $30. 

However, annual passes would remain at $80. 

The fee increase could potentially add up to $70 million in revenue to NPS which would help improve roads, bridges, bathrooms, trail signage, water lines, and visitor services. 

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said in a statement that “the infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration.”

Some of the 17 parks with increased fees include are Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Shenandoah, and Joshua Tree.

There are over 400 national park sites in the US, but only 118 actually charge any kind of entrance fee.

Wildfire burns near Yosemite National Park

Per procedure, NPS has opened the proposal up to public comment for 30 days, set to expire 6 November.

Theresa Pierno, the CEO of the nonpartisan charity National Parks Conservation Association, criticised the proposed move.

“We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places — protected for all Americans to experience — unaffordable for some families to visit,” she said.

Opponents of the fee hike also say that infrastructure improvements should be funded by the government through better allocation of taxpayer money, not additional fees collected from visitors.

Mr Zinke’s move comes at a time when the Trump administration has proposed increasing funding for energy projects on public lands like the Keystone XL and Dakota pipelines, but also slashing the Department of the Interior’s budget by 12 per cent.

Once the budget gets approved NPS could lose up to 1,242 full time staff, which includes park rangers.

The NPS, in a document justifying the amount of money it requested, said the Trump administration’s proposed cuts could result in closing campgrounds, reduction of services, and loss of staff at 90 per cent of parks around the country.

However, fee increases that were put in place at some parks in 2015 do not seem to have had a negative impact on the number of visitors.

In fact, in 2016 NPS had a record-breaking 331 million visits, nearly eight per cent more than the year before.


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