Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, the guy who took a $12,000 charter flight to Montana at taxpayers’ expense on a plane owned by oil and gas executives, has proposed doubling entrance fees at 17 national parks, making a visit to the Grand Tetons more expensive than the Louvre.
“Proposed peak season entrance fees and revised fees for road-based commercial tours would generate badly needed revenue for improvements to the aging infrastructure of national parks,” the National Park Service said in a statement. “This includes roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services.”
HuffPost reports that if implemented, the cost of private vehicles would double to $70; visitors coming on foot would pay $30. The Trump administration has proposed cutting the NPS budget by 13 percent, which would have major impacts on the functionality of most parks as they face overwhelming crowds. The parks affected would be Acadia, Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Denali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, Joshua Tree, Mount Rainier, Olympic, Rocky Mountain, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Shenandoah, Yellowstone, Yosemite and Zion.
“The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors,” Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association, told HuffPost. Indeed, such a move would make the country’s remaining shreds of wilderness unaffordable for large segments of the population.
“Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the amazing destinations they are visiting,” Sec. Zinke said in a statement.
“We need to have the vision to look at the future of our parks and take action in order to ensure that our grandkids’ grandkids will have the same if not better experience than we have today. Shoring up our parks’ aging infrastructure will do that.”
Speaking of our grandkids’ grandkids, Zinke recently recommended shrinking four national monuments, and opening up a total of 10 monuments to “traditional uses” like coal mining and logging. His Interior Dept. is auctioning off 77 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to oil companies for offshore drilling, amounting to “all available un-leased areas on the Gulf’s Outer Continental Shelf.”