Letter to the editor: Increased national park fees discourage use


In October, Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke proposed a hike of entrance fees to our nation’s most popular national parks from $25 to $70. This fee increase would discourage using our parks. Americans have fewer and fewer opportunities to access public wilderness — Bears Ears Monument in Utah is under review and may be returned to private use.

So, at a time when access may be reduced and land may be turned over from public use, using our national parks is the best response. Our tourism dollars can send a strong message to the Interior Department that access to these beautiful wildernesses is worth preserving. The Interior Department says that fees need to be hiked in order to support park maintenance, but have chosen a poor manner of raising revenue. Taxing the negative outputs of society that are a detriment to the health and beauty of our parks, like pollution and carbon, would be a better way to protect and fund our parks.

Our National Parks aren’t just important for our own use, or to preserve our nation’s beauty. According to the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office, Washington’s outdoor recreation market supports nearly 200,000 jobs and results in $4.6 billion in additional money flowing into the state. This portion of Washington’s economy would be detrimentally affected by the planned fee increase. Phil Freeman, owner of Copper Creek Inn just outside Mount Rainier National Park, said that the fee increase represents an existential threat to his business. The federal government should find another solution rather than putting the lodging industry in this much danger.

Nearby national parks affected include Olympic, Glacier and Mount Rainier National Park. They’re beautiful in the spring and summer, perfect for Instagramming. Think about planning a trip and rebutting the federal government at the same time.