Monday, May 07, 2007

National Park Fee Hikes Questioned

A four-year program to increase national parks entrance fees and make them more uniform could discourage many Americans from visiting their national parks — especially parks that are close to home, some parks boosters say.

The federal government's move in January to replace the National Park Service's $50 annual pass with a new $80 multi-agency pass is also drawing fire.

The National Parks Conservation Association, a non-partisan group that lobbies on behalf of national parks, recently called on Congress to allow the park service to bring back the less expensive pass, which allowed free entry to the 145 parks that charge fees. Another 246 national park sites do not have entrance fees.

The new America the Beautiful Pass can be used at about 2,000 recreation sites operated by the park service, the U.S. Forest Service and several other federal agencies.

Meanwhile, the number of visitors to the national parks has been falling.
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