weather icon Overcast

National Park Service announces fee hikes

Instead of doubling entrance fees at select high-traffic sites, the National Park Service announced plans to spread the pain systemwide.

Starting June 1, all 117 fee-collecting parks will charge an extra $5 for admission, including Death Valley, Lake Mead, Grand Canyon, Zion and other park sites in the Las Vegas vicinity.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area will see its seven-day entry fee go from $20 to $25 for passenger vehicles, from $15 to $20 for motorcycles, and from $10 to $15 for individuals on foot, bicycle or horseback.

The announcement was made April 12.

The fee increase does not apply to Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, which is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, or Great Basin National Park, which doesn’t charge for admission.

The price for the Lifetime Senior Pass and the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass will remain $80.

In October, the park service proposed a dramatic, peak-season fee increase at some of its busiest and most iconic parks to fund improvements and boost revenue for the cash-strapped system.

Under the plan, entrance fees would have more than doubled to $70 per vehicle, $50 per motorcycle and $30 per person during the busiest five months at 17 parks, including Grand Canyon in Arizona; Joshua Tree, Sequoia-Kings Canyon and Yosemite in California; and Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands and Zion in Utah.

Park service officials said they switched to an across-the-board increase in response to public comments on the original plan, which was blasted by conservation groups and Democratic lawmakers.

Forecast to raise $60 million

Once fully implemented, the fee increase is expected to bring in an additional $60 million to a parks system that collected $199 million in entrance fees in 2016.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior, the nation’s 417 parks, monuments and historic and cultural sites need an estimated $11.6 billion to clear their growing list of deferred maintenance projects.

All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain with the park service, with at least 80 percent of the money staying in the park where it is collected.

“An investment in our parks is an investment in America,” said Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke in a written statement announcing the fee hike. “Every dollar spent to rebuild our parks will help bolster the gateway communities that rely on park visitation for economic vitality.”

Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, applauded the administration for listening to the public and abandoning its original proposal.

The “more measured fee increases” will generate much-needed funds “without threatening visitation or local economies,” Pierno said, but more action is needed.

Increased funding urged

“Congress should commit to increasing park funding in future spending bills,” she said. “It also needs to go one important step further by enacting legislation like the National Park Service Legacy Act that would make substantial, sustainable and dependable investments in our parks.”

Zinke said the Trump administration is currently working with lawmakers on proposed legislation that would earmark some revenue from energy development on federal land for “National Park restoration.”

The move has drawn criticism from some conservation groups because it could make park improvements contingent on controversial and potentially destructive oil, gas and coal development.

The National Park system has seen record visitation in recent years, spurred in part by the service’s centennial celebration in 2016.

Last year, almost 330.9 million people visited the 379 park service sites that reported attendance figures.

That was roughly 89,000 shy of the record of just under 331 million visitors set the previous year.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Local Salvation Army hit by thieves

As Pahrump’s Salvation Army prepares to serve families in need during the holiday season, approximately $500 worth of new toys set aside for its annual Angel Tree program were recently stolen, along with Christmas decorations and items being stored for the Kiwanis Club and Pahrump’s Sleep In Heavenly Peace organization.

Pahrump community comes together for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time for appreciation and for hundreds of Pahrump area residents and visitors, there was plenty to be grateful for this year at the Pahrump Holiday Task Force’s annual Community Thanksgiving Dinner.

Pahrump Valley Academy virtual town hall set for Saturday

Throughout much of 2019 and into 2020, a group of local residents hoping to add a new educational option to the valley worked diligently toward establishing Pahrump Valley Academy, which would have been the valley’s very first public charter school, only to have the proposal nixed in early 2020.

Rotary Club encouraging students to read

The Pahrump Rotary Club has performed countless community service projects since its inception in 1987.

Bowling for Our Wounded Warriors – Fundraiser set for Dec. 5

Donning a U.S. armed forces uniform is something that comes with great risk and the men and women who step up to take on the challenge of protecting America through military service often come home with injuries, both the visible and the invisible kind.

Man calls 911 while speaking to deputies, report says

Nye County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested a man who allegedly called 911 for a complaint about loud music at a residence along South Chippewa Street last week but ended up getting arrested himself.

Development of Pahrump’s Kellogg Park tracking right along

Development of Pahrump’s newest park, Kellogg Park on the southern end of the valley, continues to move along steadily, with a variety of milestones reached in recent months and officials with the town of Pahrump and Nye County now setting their sights on the next steps of the development process.

PLAC to decide on Rough Hat recommendations; meeting Nov. 30 in Pahrump

Throughout its many years, the Pahrump Public Lands Advisory Committee hasn’t seen a whole lot of community involvement, with the group historically hosting its monthly meetings amid almost empty audiences.

Together With Veterans hosting SWOT assessment meeting in Pahrump

The men and women who have served in the United States military have given of themselves, made sacrifices on a daily basis and put the safety of others before themselves in order to protect America but when service comes to an end and they return to civilian life, the transition can be jarring.

Beatty Advisory Board deals with trails, racing, blue light

There will be no informal election to choose appointees to the Beatty Town Advisory Board. Randy Reed and Erika Gerling, whose terms expire at the end of the year, were the only people to submit letters of interest, so the Board voted, at their Nov. 22 meeting, to forward their names to the Board of County Commissioners for reappointment.