The National Park Service has never been placed in a more threatening situation. President Trump has made it clear that the remaining wild – and once protected – areas of the U.S. are no longer a matter of importance, and therefore, don’t need any financial support. As jobs are lost, visitors’ services cut, and campgrounds closed, parks are forced to take matters into their own hands, at the cost of visitors who enjoy them.
National Parks have been steadily increasing entrance fees throughout the country, but now they’re considering drastic increases during some of the more popular parks’ peak seasons. Instead of a slight raise between summers, visitors can expect to see entrance fees nearly triple at some of their favorite parks, 17 of the most popular, including Olympic and Mount Rainier.
See the full list here: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/
The problem is simple: The National Park Service doesn’t have the funds to complete the necessary upkeep that makes these parks what they are. Trails won’t be maintained, campgrounds won’t be kept in pristine condition, and what infrastructure does exist in these areas will decline.
As someone who frequents several of these parks yearly, I find myself torn on the issue. At first, I was staunchly against raising the fees at all. The people who visit these parks come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds; I’ve enjoyed national parks throughout my life, even when it could have been argued that the $20.00 entrance fee I paid might have been better spent on something more useful – like food.
At the same time though, I feel responsible. The money from these increased rates will go toward the perpetuity of the parks themselves. It seems selfish to be in favor of lower entrance fees, knowing that the result will mean worse park conditions for later generations. Especially when the root of this problem can be traced back to a certain, orange-hued presidential nightmare. We can’t immediately change who holds office, but we can help counteract his influence.
What’s so wonderful about nature is that it outlasts us to such an extent that our grandchildren’s grandchildren will be able to visit the Grand Canyon, seeing it more or less unchanged. That’s part of the magic for me; knowing I’m in a place that’s been astonishing people since, well, people became people. It’s why these parks exist in the first place, so that attention can be brought to the natural wonders of the landscape, not for any monetary gains.
Thinking back on my experiences at Bryce Canyon, Rocky Mountain, and many more national parks, I would again gladly skip a couple meals to enjoy their natural splendor for a week. Although the wild side of me questions the cost of entering any natural area, the responsible, human side of me understands that I wouldn’t have had the experiences that I did if it wasn’t for the National Park Service making it all possible. I wouldn’t trade those for a few extra dollars in my pocket.
Whatever you decide, the public is able to voice their concerns within a 30-day window, which started October 24, and ends November 23. The National Park Service asks the public to submit their comments electronically, at this website: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/
By Nick Stollings