The proposed fees would turn thousands of people away, increasing the gap in access to the outdoors, people who want to experience our country’s unique and beautiful treasures.
“Arreglense! Nos vamos ir caminando.”
“Get ready! We’re going hiking.”
Mi Mami’s voice would ring through the house as we scurried to find a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. After a bit of running around, the six of us packed ourselves into Papi’s camioneta and we were off.
Speak out on $70 park fees
The Trump administration wants to raise peak-season entrance fees to 17 national parks, including Mount Rainier and Olympic national parks. The Department of Interior has extended the public-comment period on its proposal to Dec. 22. To comment, go online: st.news/ParkFees.
Around the time I began middle school, going running as a family became a weekly outing. Running up hills. Trying to catch our breath. Fighting off bugs. Stopping at the top to eat our snacks — or tortas, if we planned ahead. Feeling the sun set around us as we continued on, talking and laughing about anything and everything. From listening to my parents tell stories about beginning their lives in the United States to discussing our newest album find from the library, it was all out in the open. Our perfect family outing.
Once I moved to Washington, my family hikes suddenly turned into solo hikes. Moving to a new state by yourself does that. After a while of exploring trails on my own, I stumbled upon Latino Outdoors, a nonprofit organization that focuses on connecting Latinos to nature through free outdoor activities and workshops. Welcomed with open arms at my first event, I discovered the magic of snowfall at Paradise, Mount Rainier. The name is truly fitting. Hailing from Southern California, I had never seen so much snow in my entire life, let alone seeing it actually fall from the sky. It was a sight I will never forget.
Despite the beauty I encountered that day, there was one detail that could not go unnoticed. We were the only group of Latinos we saw. Honestly, that didn’t surprise me at all. There is a large lack of diversity in the outdoors. One of the biggest barriers people face to getting outside is that pursuing outdoor activities is prohibitively expensive, which deters many people from actually going out for the first time.
So it’s a true shame that the Trump administration is proposing a fee increase — nearly tripling the peak-season admissions fee of entering 17 of our national parks to up to $70 per private vehicle. It will undoubtedly turn thousands of people away, only increasing the gap in access to the outdoors. People who have never been to a national park. People who want to experience our country’s unique and beautiful treasures. People who want to see snowfall for the first time.
The fee increase is only the latest attempt from this administration to reduce our sense of place. We watch the news and observe the many attempts that would separate people from their land: shrinking national monuments that are sacred sites for Native communities, deporting undocumented immigrants to a country they do not call home, attempting to drill the Gwich’in homeland in the Arctic Refuge — the list goes on. They aim to separate us from the places that are intrinsic to our culture, while cutting a deal with private industry.
From a young age, my parents shared their love of the outdoors with my sisters and me. Since then, my love for the outdoors has never stopped growing. Latino Outdoors has pushed me farther and to new places. I feel very fortunate to have these connections, and I know many are not so lucky. Instead of creating more obstacles, President Donald Trump and Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke need to ensure our shared lands are more accessible for all to enjoy — not attempt to turn them into another gated community.