The National Park Service is accepting public comments on a proposed increase of entry fees at more than a dozen of the most popular parks, including Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Zion, Rocky Mountain and Yellowstone.
If you’re upset by this possible price hike, know that there are two very good reasons for it.
The first is that America’s national parks are being loved to death. The number of annual visitors to our parks is on the rise and each one of us causes wear and tear to park infrastructure and places a strain on NPS services. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t go to a national park, but rather that you should be well aware of your impact and take steps to reduce it. Utilize the “leave no trace” principles, adhere to all park rules, keep your vehicle on the roads and for the love of all that is holy, dispose of your trash and recyclables properly.
The second reason for higher entrance fees stems directly from federal funding, or rather a lack thereof. The National Park Service provides a wealth of recreation, conservation and education opportunities that can be found nowhere else. The agency will do incredible work with its $2.5 billion budget this year, but it’s not enough. We the people, for whom the parks are meant, have to demand that our elected officials allocate more funds for our wild, public lands.
If you can’t stomach the higher prices, there is something you can do — buy an annual park pass. It lasts all year, only costs $80 and covers admission for two people at any park. And you can volunteer. Offering your help to a national park reduces the number of dollars spent and connects you with the land in a way few visitors ever experience.
It has been said that the national parks are America’s best idea. Our wild lands, set aside for the public’s exploration, enjoyment and pride, are uniquely American. Though these parks boast some of the most iconic landscapes and wildlife in the world, they are fragile to our daily use and our political policies. It’s up to us to support the National Park Service. And if you’ve never been to a national park, start planning your trip now. It’s worth every penny.
Happy birthday Saturday to Mike Sonnenburg of Denison; Curt Corbray of Howe; and Montrel Hughes and Phillip Lyons, both of Sherman.