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Congressman Opposes Parks Fee Hike


    If you want to increase visitation to an attraction, do you raise the entrance fee? Logic would tell you, 'No.'
    That's the feeling a congressman from Oregon has. And Rep. Peter DeFazio thinks the National Park Service will make a big mistake if it goes forward with its plan to double Crater Lake National Park's entrance fee from $10 to $20.
    While the Democrat in general opposes fee increases being implemented at parks across the country, he's particularly upset with the Crater Lake situation, especially since that park has seen steady visitation for a decade. That steadiness, park officials admit, is due to return visits by Oregonians.
“It doesn’t make sense to increase park fees while national parks are struggling to attract visitors,” says DeFazio. “I am concerned that the increase in fees at Crater Lake will discourage regular visits by Oregon families."
    As for the rest of the national park system, the congressman believes funding solutions need to come from the federal government, not from visitors.
    "I agree that the national park system is in need of additional funding, but raising fees for park visitors will only drive visitors away. Instead, the Department of the Interior should raise the money it needs to improve the park system by collecting the royalties that oil companies owe the United States,” he says.
    Now what we need is more congress-folk who share DeFazio's mindset.


As an Oregonian and a former seasonal interpretive ranger at Crater Lake, I am unhappy with the fee hike at Crater Lake. The 1916 Organic Act, the NPS's charter legislation, stated that parks are for all the people, not just those with $20. But to play devil's advocate, consider why the fee has been increased: new development at Rim Village. Crater Lake has a long history of charging entrance fees to pay for "development" in the park. Remove the roads, lodge, flush toilets, leaky sewage pipes, and concession stands with their artery- choking transfats, and you can eliminate the entrance fee. In fact, there is no fee for the undeveloped southwestern corner of the park (which is in my opinion, the best part of the park). Hike through the park on the PCT and you'll not be charged. Drive to the any edge of the park and hike in and you'll not be charged. Also to play devil's advocate: If one can afford $50 to $100 of gas for the roundtrip from Portland, what's an extra 20 bucks? If a family of five can afford 50 bucks for a night out at the movies, certainly $20 seems like a deal. Also consider that the Organic Act was written before throngs of tourists demanded paved roads, flush toilets, deluxe accomodations, trinket shops. As long as people seek out that which is not natural amidst that which should be, there will be fees. In a perfect world, the National Park Service would be fully funded, and the billions of maintenance backlog would be elminated. Until that happens, if you drive into a national park, prepare to pay an entrance fee.

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