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Visiting a National Park? Proposed Fee Hikes Modified

Sunrise at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

The U.S. Department of Interior is rolling out a modified plan for national park fee increases that's about half what was proposed several months ago, resulting in a firestorm of opposition. Now, critics seem somewhat pacified.

Before I get into that, however, I want to say that I was sorely tempted to mention the new book by former FBI Director James Comey and some of his revelations, including that President Trump tried to talk him into investigating a report that he (Trump) engaged in "golden shower" activities with prostitutes in a Moscow hotel. Trump said that never happened and he wanted to provide assurance to Melania. Anyway, he's a "germaphobe," he said when that story first came out, so it couldn't have happened.

That, of course is just the most recent nastiness in recent days about our esteemed president. The latest (before the Comey book) was a report about a purported $30,000 payoff by National Enquirer to a doorman to keep quiet about information he reportedly had regarding an illegitimate child supposedly fathered by the president-to-be. Enquirer owner David Pecker is reported to have cut the deal to protect his pal.

But I will forgo that temptation because you can read about that virtually anywhere and you'll be lambasted with reports on TV, except probably Fox News. Plus, you already know what I think about Trump, as if that matters!

Instead, I'll cover some relatively good news regarding national park fee increases as we head into the vacation season.

This report from CNN notes that the National Park Service today unveiled its plan to raise fees at many national parks by around $5 in the next year, with some seeing an additional increase in 2020. The new plan will apply to the 117 national parks that charge fees, not to the two-thirds of national parks that do not have entrance feess.

The entrance fee for the Grand Canyon, the nation's most popular park that charges an entrance fee, will climb by $5 to $35 per vehicle starting June 1. An annual pass for the Grand Canyon will increase by $10 to $70. The original proposal unveiled in October, called for more than doubling peak-season admission at 17 popular parks to $70.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Increasing entrance fees will help the park service address a nearly $12 billion backlog of maintenance projects, adding that the new plan is more "balanced" and will raise about $60 million in additional revenue per year.

The National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit group that opposed the original $70 proposal, said the "more measured fee increases will put additional funds into enhancing park experiences without threatening visitation or local economies."

So today there was some relatively good news for vacationers, even though the same cannot be said for President Trump.

I would hate to be working at the White House these days, I'll tell you that. I think I would by a National Parks pass and head for the hills.

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