Proposal could increase Rocky Mountain National Park gate fee to $70

Utah national parks would charge $70 per car under proposed fee hike

The National Park Service proposes increasing the price of entrance for a single, private vehicle from $30 to $70 in 17 of the country's most popular national parks during the peak season.

Joshua Tree National Park is among the 17 tourist destinations for which the National Park Service has proposed significantly raising the entrance fee.

Along with Glacier and Yellowstone, some of the other parks on the list are Grand Teton, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion and Rocky Mountain.

According to park service officials, 80 percent of fees stay in the originating parks, with leftover money going into a shared pot for parks that don't charge entrance fees.

The park service said the fee increase, which would be applied during the parks' five busiest months, is necessary to address a backlog of maintenance and infrastructure projects.

At Acadia, which consistently ranks among the top 10 most-visited national parks, the "peak visitor season" would stretch from June 1 to October 31.

A 30-day public comment period opened Tuesday.

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Democratic lawmakers were quick to slam the park fee proposal. The Trump administration has proposed cutting the NPS budget by 13 percent, which would have major impacts on the functionality of most parks as they face overwhelming crowds.

The higher fee would commence next year if approved by National Park Service leaders.

It could soon become a lot more expensive to experience some of the most iconic national parks in the U.S., CNN reports. "Targeted fee increases at some of our most-visited parks will help ensure that they are protected and preserved in perpetuity and that visitors enjoy a world-class experience that mirrors the fantastic destinations they are visiting".

Opponents say the proposal would hit minority groups particularly hard.

Minutolo credited Acadia staff with doing a tremendous job of trying to keep up with maintenance and infrastructure needs within the roughly 50,000-acre park. Even before then, in 2015, the parks were faced with major budgetary concerns, according to a report from Mother Jones, who wrote that it would cost the federal government $11.5 billion to fix numerous country's older public lands.

"We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places - protected for all Americans to experience - unaffordable for some families to visit", Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association, said in a statement.

Jim Tomlin, the president of the Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, which maintains 101 miles of the trail that runs through the park, hypothesized that the change would simply lead more people to buy the national pass, depriving local parks of revenue. On top of that, they were concerned that the reduced budget would also impact their ability to protect and preserve the parks as they are, somewhat defeating the goal of having a National Park Service at all.

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