by: Graham Johnson Updated:
A proposal by the Trump administration to raise national park entrance fees to $70 per car is alarming people in the town of Greenwater, a gateway to Mount Rainier National Park.
"I think it's crazy," said Jill Trulson of the store Wapitai Woolies. "I worry that it will affect a lot of people. That's a lot of money for one family to go into the park for a day."
Trulson also wonders about the impact on business.
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"Eighty percent of our traffic in the summer is going to the park. It's kind of scary, to be honest," she said.
Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke's proposal affects both Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks, as well as 15 other popular parks around the country.
It hikes peak-season entrance fees from $25 to $70 per car.
Annual passes for one specific park would rise from $50 to $75.
The annual America the Beautiful pass, which provides entrance to all national parks, would remain at $80.
"The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration," a press release quoted Zinke as saying.
"It's a draconian fee increase for the national parks," said Graham Taylor, Northwest field representative for the National Parks Conservation Association.
"The American people are already paying taxes to support our public lands and to double the fees is outrageous and it really leaves a lot of people out of our parks at a time we really want to include more people in our parks, so it's really not the way to move forward," Taylor said.
Taylor said the maintenance backlog in national parks is $11.3 billion, and includes the most basic facilities.
"Making sure you have, like, a bathroom when you get to the park, which I think everybody wants," Taylor said. "The things that aren't the sexiest new projects but repairing the things that we have."
Taylor says the funding problem should be addressed by Congress, by passing the National Park Service Legacy Act.
The Department of the Interior says 80 percent of the money will remain in the park where it is collected, with the rest going to projects in other national parks.
The National Park Service estimates the plan would raise annual entrance fee revenues from $199.9 million to $268.5 million.
A 30-day comment period on the proposal opened Tuesday.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.
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