With summer break starting do you already have your camping plans made? If you’re planning on visiting one of the country’s many national parks you may want to bring some extra cash.
The National Park Service announced that they plan to go through with raising the visitor fees for many of the country’s national parks. The raise for the fees is being said to help with the parks maintenance costs to repair deteriorating facilities.
Cumberland Island National Seashore released information on their official Facebook page stating, “Entrance fees collected at parks fund many projects that support the visitor experience. Generally, 80% of the fees collected at a park stay within that park. The remainder is spread among the 300 parks units that do not charge an entrance fee.”
Cumberland Island will see an entrance fee increase to $10 starting June 1, 2018.
Cumberland is known for its beaches, wild horses and Carnegie mansions located on the island. One of the most famous events to take place there was when John F. Kennedy Jr. and Carolyn Bessette got married at the little church located on the north end of the island.
Cumberland Island’s fee is a minor increase compared to more popular national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite. The New York Times article, National Park Service Reconsiders Steep Fee Increase After Backlash, suggested the original proposal called for a fee raise to $70 for noncommercial vehicles which was only $30. Motorcycles would go up to $50 from $25, with pedestrians and cyclists seeing a fee increase from $15 to $30.
Many park visitors were outraged at this announcement and submitted their concern during the parks public comment period. Officials reported receiving over 100,000 comments mostly writing in against the proposed increase.
Park visitors are concerned that with these increases they will no longer be able to afford to see the beautiful natural areas meant for the public.
The National Park Service released information on their website to address the feedback they received. In the article, National Park Service Announces Plan to Address Infrastructure Needs & Improve Visitor Experience, stated, “The changes, which come in response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017, will modestly increase entrance fees to raise additional revenue to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments.”
The article suggests that more popular parks, such as Yosemite National Park, will only see a fee increase of $5 and will also start June 1. This increase is on the seven-day vehicle pass raising from $30 to $35.
Yosemite National Park is known for its picturesque Tioga Road and gorgeous views of Yosemite Valley. The park operates year-round and has roughly 4 million visitors every year.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke says, “An investment in our parks is an investment in America. Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality. I want to thank the American people who made their voices heard through the public comment process on the original fee proposal. Your input has helped us develop a balanced plan that focuses on modest increases at the 117 fee-charging parks as opposed to larger increases proposed for 17 highly-visited national parks. The $11.6 billion maintenance backlog isn’t going to be solved overnight and will require a multi-tiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to repair infrastructure.”
This proposal is a workaround from what was originally proposed and continues to allow the parks to be more accessible to lower-income families. The slight increase to the 117 fee-charging parks may have an impact to all of the park’s visitors instead of the steep proposed increase on the 17 most popular national parks.
The entrance fees collected in 2016 totaled to $199 million. The National Park Service is estimating that with this year’s fee increase structure will give them a jump of roughly $60 million more in revenue off entrance fees alone.
If the plan for the summer is site seeing in one of the countries beautiful national parks be sure to bring some extra cash since the fees you paid to gain entry last year may cost you a little more. This can be rough for the average college student who is already living pay check to pay check. Most students visit the park since it is a cheap thing to do and very enjoyable to unplug from our online lives to reconnect with nature.
So, what is a college student to do if they can’t afford to visit the park? We located many positions available to students at www.USAjobs.gov. The positions range from paid internships to volunteers who can receive a stipend for housing and food.
One internship with Cumberland Island National Seashore supplies housing on the island, a stipend for food and a vehicle to be used during your stay for work purposes. This intern assists the wildlife biologist with his duties as well as sets up barriers for the sea turtles that nest on the island.
Not only will this get you out of the house for the summer, but you may also be able to earn some extra coin for your purse while vacationing. Plus, you get to add the work experience to your resume that you held a government position working with the National Park Service.
Remember to plan accordingly as the camping spots can fill up pretty quick. You can make your reservations on the National Parks Service’s website at www.nps.gov. Additional information can be found on their website for students as well as new graduates about the different positions available with the park.