The Trump administration has proposed a 12 percent budget cut to the National Park Service. It now proposes a fee increase at 17 national parks during peak seasons to generate $70 million a year in revenue for $11.3 billion in deferred maintenance.
Given the scale of the backlog, fees alone cannot solve the challenge. This proposal will increase the disparity in terms of who is able to access our national parks. The NPS runs the risk of becoming the guardian of country clubs, playgrounds for the wealthy who can afford a visit. It promotes the gentrification of the national parks.
Fortunately, a bipartisan measure, the National Park Service Legacy Act, with lead sponsors U.S. Reps. Derek Kilmer and Dave Reichert, along with U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, would fund high-priority deferred maintenance needs in parks.
Congress needs to provide a sustainable source of funding along with a reasonable fee structure for public access. We need to ensure that our children and grandchildren have the continued opportunity to experience our rich history in these places, and to learn more about the people and lands that have shaped our nation.
Roger Andrascik, Eatonville