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052 Park Passes and Fees 2009-03-04

delicate arch

The National Park’s mission statement:

“The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations.”

I have always thought that the admission fees to the Parks is a necessary evil, if we play we have to pay. I know other people who feel differently. In their eyes our taxes pay for the Parks and they hate fees tacked on to their tax burden...

For twenty five years or so I have purchased a Golden Eagle Pass or some variation of it. The pass enables the bearer to enter any of the National Parks as many times as you would like for a whole year. If you went to several Parks during the year the pass would more than paid for itself. If you did not visit many parks then pass might not be as good of a deal. When I first began buying the pass it was because I thought it was a killer deal. I was planning on spending my vacation going in and out of Parks and the pass seemed to be the cheapest alternative. Now I buy one out of duty or support to the system whether I plan to visit a Park or not.

The Parks need money. Most larger Parks charge an entrance or parking fee, campground fee, rental fee, permit fee, and special use fee. The money collected is then sent to Washington. If a Park collects a record amount of cash, they are still alloted their budgeted quota. The money given to the Park does not stay in the Park it all goes to the general fund. (If you want to give money to one specific Park donate to their Friends group.)

The Government needs money also, that is why they tax us and collect fees from the Parks. The Government would even tax us more if the money collected from Parks did not add to the general fund. Basically the Parks are not in the money making business and should not be treated as such. Money the Parks make, they give back to the government! I want the Parks to continue to "preserve unimpaired" and not be forced to produce revenue. We don’t need a five star restaurant overlooking Delicate Arch, even if it would increase revenue! The Parks returning the money to the general fund reduces the need for greed.

272,623,980 visitors went to National Parks in 2007. The Parks operated with a budget of 2.2 billion dollars and collected 308 million dollars. The impact those 272 million visitors had on the local economies was estimated at 10 billion dollars. I think that is a pretty good return on the 2.2 billion spent! (source: Park’s - About Us)

The Parks are national treasures and resources. As national treasures the Parks are destinations for millions of visitors from around the world. The Parks are also national resources not for the timber, water, or minerals; but because the visitors to the Parks spend money in the local communities. I choose to purchase a Park Pass each year partly just to show support of the Park but I also support other means of fund raising that does not leave the Parks in violation of their mission statement. If the Parks design new fee programs or services, they could probably sell me on buying them. I am not worried about the extra fees, I have the choice to whether I use the services.

Happy Trails.

Link: http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/index.htm


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