02.01.18

Gardner Requests Delay of Proposed National Park Fee Increase

Washington D.C. — Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) today sent a letter to Department of Interior Secretary Zinke requesting he “delay the implementation of and work with the stakeholders on the proposed targeted fee increase at 17 National Parks.”

 

“While I share your urgency on the need to address the park maintenance backlog, I have concerns that sudden and dramatic increases in the costs of passes for both private individuals and commercial operations could have unforeseen negative consequences on the communities that rely on visitation to these parks to keep their economies thriving,” wrote Gardner. “Additionally, I have serious concerns about the elimination of day pass at RMNP.”

 

The letter reads in full:

 

Dear Secretary Zinke:

 

I write to request that you delay the implementation of and work with the stakeholders on the proposed targeted fee increase at 17 National Parks. One of the parks where a fee increase has been proposed, Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), is in the state of Colorado and if the proposal moves forward as written, RMNP would be subject to an increase of over 100% and 400% on private and commercial passes, respectively, while also eliminating day passes.

 

While I share your urgency on the need to address the park maintenance backlog, I have concerns that sudden and dramatic increases in the costs of passes for both private individuals and commercial operations could have unforeseen negative consequences on the communities that rely on visitation to these parks to keep their economies thriving. Additionally, I have serious concerns about the elimination of day pass at RMNP.

 

RMNP is unique in that it is the only national park in the country that currently issues a daily pass. Coloradoans love their public lands, and a great number of RMNP visitors are day-trippers from the front-range. In 2016, day passes represented 70% of the total number of passes issued, and were responsible for 50% of the fee revenue generated by all passes. I do not believe the elimination of this pass would increase either visitation or revenue to the park. The more likely outcome is the purchase of more annual passes, which when purchased online do not see the park benefit from the revenue generated by the sale.

 

There is an urgent need to address the more than $11 billion dollar maintenance backlog on lands managed by the National Park Service, over $220 million of which is here in Colorado. However, we must ensure that any changes we make do not cause a reduction in visitation that could affect the local economies that support the parks. I oppose any immediate fee increases at RMNP and urge you to engage with the stakeholders prior to finalizing any proposal for the fee structure as well as keep the day pass that generates the most revenue for RMNP.

 

I stand ready and willing to work with you to find a legislative solution to the maintenance backlog that will more ably address the issue. Thank you for your attention to this matter.

 

Sincerely,

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Cory Gardner is a member of the U.S. Senate serving Colorado. He sits on the Energy & Natural Resources Committee, the Foreign Relations Committee, the Commerce, Science, & Transportation Committee, and the Budget Committee, and is the Chairman of the Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific, and International Cybersecurity Policy and Subcommittee on Energy

 

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