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New fees for National Parks

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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby mrchad9 » Wed Nov 01, 2017 5:08 pm

Solution to recent items mentioned is simple...

Charge $200 per visit to anyone who wants to visit the parks... but if you show an American ID of any sort it is free (or maybe something like $10).

Same process is used in many other countries.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby Bill Reed » Thu Nov 02, 2017 7:52 pm

seano wrote:Higher fees are a terrible way to control the number of visitors. I would much rather see a quota system like they have for Mount Whitney, with a reservation fee and a limited number of walk-in permits each day. If you're concerned about a secondary market and scalpers, you can always tie reserved permits to IDs.


OK seano, but I don't see that as a realistic solution. We're not talking apples to apples here. In 2016 Inyo NF reported-13,638 applications requesting space for 64,939 people to climb the mountain in 2016.

Rocky Mountain NP had 3,430,000 visitors in 2014. That number jumped to 4,520,000 in 2016.
Grand Canyon had 4,760,000 in 2014, 5,970,000 in 2016.
Yosemite had 3,880,000 in 2014, 5,030,000 in 2016.
These are not insignificant increases and there is no end in sight.
Where does it end? Where do you set your quota??

Perhaps a quota for commercial tour groups/outfitters would ease some of the overcrowding, especially at places like the Grand Canyon & Yellowstone but there would be such a hue and cry from those businesses and from the nearby towns like Estes Park and West Yellowstone that it probably would not fly.

So, where does that leave us???
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby stinkysox77 » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:06 pm

I just don't see how places like Rocky Mountain, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Zion, Canyonlands, or Arches aren't turning a profit. Its not like there have that many expenses, most of them even charge for backcountry permits too. I get it that most of the people visiting Rocky Mountain probably live along the front range and have an annual pass, but still there's only like 1 road through the park and 4 visitor centers, how many expenses can there really be?

Edit: Alright I looked it up, and for fiscal year 2007 RMNP projected expenditures to be 26.3M! 2.3M of that was in administration costs alone, what is there to administer? Its a park, it pretty much runs itself.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby seano » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:36 pm

Bill -- Thanks for the numbers. As someone who believes that the world would be a better place with a 1950s population, i.e. 2.5-3B, I think the quota for many parks should be less than the current number of visitors. It would suck for the people who couldn't get in, but such is life on an overcrowded planet.

For some parks (or parts of parks), a quota system can fall out naturally from implementing a shuttle service. With limited space in its canyon, Zion realized that letting cars in willy-nilly could not work, and added parking outside the park with regular shuttle service to handle the day-hiking majority. There are special hang-tags for people staying at the hotel in the park, and maybe for backpackers (I haven't checked). They can decide roughly how many people they want in the canyon, and create enough parking and shuttles to handle that volume. I don't believe they have an explicit quota yet, but if the lot south of the park fills up, you're pretty much SOL.

I think Yosemite Valley should go this way as well, because there's a limit to how many cars fit in the Valley. Grand Canyon, too, at least for the South Rim, which only has two entrances and gets the vast majority of visitors. RMNP already has a shuttle and tag system for the Glacier Gorge area, I believe.

You're right that tour companies would yell, and try to kill any such plan, because a few people make a living by making everyone else's life slightly worse. It's the same dynamic that keeps pack animals in SEKI, turning the trails into trenches full of pulverized manure.

Where does that leave us, if we don't prevail over those interests? It leaves us with parks degraded to a point where they naturally deter enough visitors to keep the number steady. Yosemite, Zion, and Yellowstone have reached that point for me already.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby chugach mtn boy » Thu Nov 02, 2017 8:51 pm

Its a park, it pretty much runs itself.

No attraction that gets 4.5 million visitors a year runs itself right. Road maintenance and policing alone cost money and require some supervision, if you are going to do them decently.

But there is another approach out there. I've just come back from Africa where some of the parks really are allowed to run themselves. It's not going all that well, though ...

To me, the best argument for tax funding rather than user fees is that it costs so damn much to collect these fees, with the entrance stations that turn thousands of rangers into cashiers. It's just not a very efficient way to raise money.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby lcarreau » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:06 am

Wait-a-minute. I keep hearing that most visitors centers and some campgrounds/lodges are being run by private companies.

Something smells here, and it's NOT just "stinky sox" SOCKS -- :wink:

chugach mtn boy wrote: It's just not a very efficient way to raise money.


Is that not surprising ??? We're talking 'bout Uncle Sam here.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby brianhughes » Fri Nov 03, 2017 2:55 am

Good article here, and I don't just say that because Summitpost (and me) got credited for a photo they used.

https://e360.yale.edu/features/greenlock-a-visitor-crush-is-overwhelming-americas-national-parks
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby stinkysox77 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:21 pm

chugach mtn boy wrote:
Its a park, it pretty much runs itself.

No attraction that gets 4.5 million visitors a year runs itself right. Road maintenance and policing alone cost money and require some supervision, if you are going to do them decently.

But there is another approach out there. I've just come back from Africa where some of the parks really are allowed to run themselves. It's not going all that well, though ...

To me, the best argument for tax funding rather than user fees is that it costs so damn much to collect these fees, with the entrance stations that turn thousands of rangers into cashiers. It's just not a very efficient way to raise money.


I'm sure the road maintenance and policing came out of the 10.9M maintenance budget and the 8.1M visitor service budget not the administration budget. The administration cost of the park was almost 9% of their budget.

Also this is 2017, we don't need rangers to be cashiers, when is the last time you went through a parking garage and a living human was your cashier, automated pay stations can replace all these people easily.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby stinkysox77 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 12:54 pm

The parks are overcrowded and in no doubt need to be protected since most of them do contain some of the most amazing geological features our country has to offer. But with the building of roads, visitor centers, and all these other amenities we've made them too accessible to the masses, and have almost defeated the purpose of preserving them at all. I think its time to get rid of all the roads and services within the parks and make them true wilderness areas. Have a visitor center at the entrances with a road service, but after that it all stops. If you want to go in and see the park, you're going to have to walk. Its not going to be a popular idea I know, but with overcrowding something has to be done.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby mrchad9 » Fri Nov 03, 2017 7:42 pm

Everyone is missing the point. The government is not raising fees with the intent to limit visitors. It is raising fees to keep building more and more $40 million visitor centers.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby mstender » Fri Nov 03, 2017 10:04 pm

stinkysox77 wrote: I think its time to get rid of all the roads and services within the parks and make them true wilderness areas.

We already have that (at least lots of it where I live) and they are called just that, wilderness areas. They have no roads, no services, no fees and no people but often very interesting peaks.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby lcarreau » Sat Nov 04, 2017 1:51 am

^^^^^ Yeah, but a lot-a people don't like the desert. They're afraid they'll run into Charles Manson and his clan out there.

Unless you're talking 'bout Sedona, but even Sedona is becoming overcrowded these days. I've never seen so many Germans in all my life ... :wink:
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby Bob Sihler » Sat Nov 04, 2017 5:39 am

stinkysox77 wrote:I think its time to get rid of all the roads and services within the parks and make them true wilderness areas.


I'd like that, too, but it's not going to happen.

What's a constructive, feasible solution that doesn't involve pricing out tax-paying citizens?
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby Scott » Sat Nov 04, 2017 6:00 am

What's aconstructive, feasible solution that doesn't involve pricing out tax-paying citizens?


Fund them properly instead of getting involved in so many overseas conflicts that support countries that don't share our values.
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Re: New fees for National Parks

Postby stinkysox77 » Mon Nov 06, 2017 1:25 pm

Bob Sihler wrote:
What's a constructive, feasible solution that doesn't involve pricing out tax-paying citizens?


With the amount of visitors they get user fees should be more than enough to cover costs. However as someone mentioned above, this new money will only be spent to build more and bigger visitor centers which will only increase costs.
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