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Backcountry Camping, Wedding Permits Likely To Get More Expensive At Grand Teton National Park


The price of a permit for backcountry traveling, or getting married, in Grand Teton National Park might be going up in 2014 as park officials are reviewing their pricing for the camping and special-use park permits.

The goal is to reflect in those permit fees the actual cost of operation for these programs.

Through a recent cost-recovery evaluation, Grand Teton conducted a comprehensive review of the financial aspects of its backcountry camping and special park use permit systems and determined that the park has not recovered the actual costs of managing these programs for several years. Cost-recovery includes all expenses incurred to process a permit application, monitor a permitted activity, and perform site restoration, when necessary.

Also being factored into the new fee structure are the costs of moving the backcountry reservations program to Park officials say transition to will allow users to plan their trip and receive immediate confirmation, and better facilitate management of the park’s backcountry reservations. Advanced reservation requests will be accepted from January 8 through May 15, and updated cost-recovery rates for all backcountry camping permits will be $25, with an additional $10 fee for advanced reservations.

The park’s charges for special use permits have not been updated since 2002. Increased oversight and management of special use permits—combined with an increase in the number of applications reviewed and permits issued—resulted in the need to conduct a cost-recovery evaluation of this rate structure as well.

Approximately 250–300 special park use applications are received annually, all of which require review. Applications for permits include weddings, commercial filming, special events, scattering of ashes and First Amendment requests; and most of the applications result in the issuance of a permit, and the need for monitoring of the permitted activity.

The adjusted special park use charges for 2014 are: $100 for weddings, $175 for events, $275 for commercial filming less than 6 months, $325 for commercial filming 6–12 months, and no charge for scattering ashes or First Amendment requests.

Application fees cover the costs incurred for processing the permit, as well as for permit review to ensure the information supplied is sufficient to form a decision for issuance. It is a one-time, non-refundable amount submitted by the applicant with his/her completed application. If the application is approved, the permitee may be responsible for additional cost-recovery charges associated with monitoring the activity and for site restoration, if necessary.

In the future, all cost-recovery charges may be re-evaluated annually and adjusted, when necessary.


Fee, Fee, Fee Fee., the Canadian entity. Helping Americans double pay for use of public lands for a decade.

Entitlement, entitlement, entitlement. I am a taxpaying American. A paltry 0.01% of the taxes I pay go to support my national parks, therefore I am entitled to use them in any way I please without being forced by faceless bureaucrats to pay anything for other services I demand.

I'm curious how those wishing for 'smaller government' and less taxes expect the national parks to maintain their properties without raising fees for their usage.

I believe the current approach, imparting fees for particular uses, is the best approach. Instead of raising the entry fee for everyone, raising the fees for particular services (camping, special use permits, etc.) keeps costs contained for those who can't afford more specialized services the parks provide (guided caving, boat rental, etc.).

Good point Lee, on the other hand, due to the debates in Congress and the failure to come up with a realistic federal budget (ie other than increases in defense spending, tax breaks for corporations, the wealthiest americans, etc.), the parks are forced into finding alternative funding sources. User fees top the list. A tough one for park managers, but it is a slippery slope. We have parking fees, interpretive fees, hiking fees, proposed increases in camping and entrance fees, wedding fees, filming fees, it is amazing the creativity in coming up with all activities that might be charged for visiting the park. I am old duffer, so I have a lifetime senior citizens pass, not sure that is good, but it is a heck of a perk. Look, the parks are very expensive to visit already, I am with smokies backpacker to some extent, we need to put some brakes on the fee enhance programs.

ie other than increases in defense spending, tax breaks for corporations, the wealthiest americans, etc.

Perhaps you haven't noticed that defense spending is near a record low as a percent of the total budget (while entitlements are at record highs), tax rates on the wealthiest have gone up and the top 5% are paying the highest percentage of all taxes ever.

I don't know if you are ignorant of the facts or just ignore them and make things up.

I'm curious how those wishing for 'smaller government' and less taxes expect the national parks to maintain their properties without raising fees for their usage.

I have no objection to justifiable fees that cover true costs assuming those costs are incremental and necessary.

Interesting response EC, I am certainly no expert, and you are right, a lot depends on your sources of information. The info. I have indicates that top top 5 to 1% of the population have seen great increases in wealth (US Census Bureau, among others), while the bottom 50% are seeing their wages (and household wealth), on the decline. Historically we know what the concentration of wealth can lead to, many citizens and political leaders are quite concerned about this. Could go on and on, but it is interesting to note how both medicare and social security are now called entitlements, when in fact they are the most successful governmental insurance programs in our history, all us of pay into both and fortunately they are not part of the annual discretionary budget debate. In my case, since 1956 for social security and 1965 for medicare, I have paid my monthly deductions, best investments I ever made. An entitlement is something you expect for nothing. Like any program, they should be reviewed periodically, actually social security is in pretty good shape, much of the abuse in the medicare system can be traced to our medical system being "based for profit". Defense spending is roughly 50% of the discretionary budget, by the time we get to our public lands there is little left to properly fund them. Please excuse "Traveler", we are about parks, but EC does bring up interesting points from a conservative perspective.

Top 10% earn over 50% of all income (and most of that is in the top 4%) also middle class also lost ground while the top 1% gained 95% of all income gains. So paying more in taxes is a given.

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