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Director Bomar Extends Freeze on Fee Increases Through 2009


National Park Service Director Mary Bomar has extended her previous freeze on higher entrance and "amenity" fees through the end of 2009.

In a short memo to the field, Director Bomar says any scheduled "entrance fee and expanded amenity fee increases for 2009" should not be implemented.

Her decision, though, does not appear to be based on the country's current economic situation.

"The Recreation Fee Program is under scrutiny and to avoid public controversy, fee increases charged through fee authorities other than the Federal Lands and Recreation Enhancement Act should be kept to a minimum," her memo reads.

Part of that "scrutiny" that Director Bomar mentions could be legislation introduced to Congress just about a year ago that would limit the fees land managers could charge for recreation on public lands.

"Americans already pay to use their public lands on April 15,” Senator Max Baucus, D-Montana, said in announcing, along with Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, the Fee Repeal and Expanded Access Act of 2007. “We shouldn’t be taxed twice to go fishing, hiking, or camping on OUR public lands. It just doesn’t make any sense. That’s why Mike and I are going to fight like the dickens to get this bill passed."

However, the senators' rhetoric was left at the door of the National Park System. The measure would simply cap park entrance fees at $25.


Of course, the letter from Senators Baucus and Crapo is nice populism, but doesn't show much understanding of economics. Our tax dollars go towards preserving and maintaining public lands, but ieach time a person visits a public land, he or she imposes a cost on the oepration of that land. There doesn't seem to be much sense in using the tax dollars that we all contribute to cover those operations costs imposed by visitors, regardless of whether one visits 10 times, one time, or even not at all....

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