/ Modified oct 25, 2017 4:29 p.m.

National Park Service Wants To Hike Entrance Fees

It would more than double fees for visitors to certain parks in order to tackle maintenance projects.

Grand Canyon June 2017 Grand Canyon National Park is one of the most visited national parks in the nation. (PHOTO: Tony Paniagua, AZPM)

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The National Park Service has proposed charging steep entrance fees at 17 of its parks during peak seasons. The money would go toward an $11 billion backlog of maintenance projects.

The park service would more than double fees for visitors to the Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Zion to $70 a car. At other parks, the fee would be nearly tripled.

The agency expects the increased fees to raise $70 million a year.

“I don’t think people always fully appreciate the fact that the water you drink, the roads you drive on, even the trails you hike on those all not only cost money to build, they also require revenue to keep maintained,” said Jeremy Barnum, a National Park Service spokesman.

Barnum said most of the parks remain free.

Latino Outdoors founder José González said he understands the need for repairs but he worries about the increased fees discouraging many people.

“For other communities for whom they have been excluded or they don’t feel they’re welcome, then that only reinforces the idea of ‘well, then that’s not for us,'" González said.

Emily Douce, government affairs director of budget and appropriations for the National Parks Conservation Association, called the increased fees “drastic.” She said, Congress should handle the problem. Lawmakers are considering a bill that would use current revenue sources to address the maintenance backlog.

Public comments on the fees are due by Nov. 23.

Fronteras Desk
This story is from the Fronteras Desk, a collaboration of Southwestern public radio stations, including NPR 89.1. Read more from the Fronteras Desk.
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