Park service explains the need for park entry fee hikes

South Bureau Chief Drew Mikkelsen reports

Mount Rainier Superintendent Randy King has heard the complaints about proposed entry fee hikes.

The Department of the Interior suggested nearly tripling the fees at the nation’s most popular National Parks, including Washington State’s Mount Rainier and the Olympic National Park.

Fees have been proposed to go from $25  for a seven-day pass to $70 to reduce a maintenance backlog at national parks across the country.

Longtime Mount Rainier visitor Kurt Erlanson, during a hike Thursday, said he's worried the move would backfire.

"It will turn a lot of people away who would have come otherwise," said Erlanson. "That will result in a net decrease rather than an increase."

King said that is a concern.

“You don’t want to price people out of the park,” said King, who said the proposal is by no means a "done deal," adding that the Interior Department wants to hear from citizens.

A 30-day public comment period opened Tuesday.

King said Mount Rainier has $176 million worth of projects on a deferred maintenance backlog list.

Most of the needs are in roads, bridges, and infrastructure, but King said trails and visitor structures would benefit from additional funding.

“By investing in these places ensures that experience people have had for the last 100 years will continue on into the future, that’s our obligation,” said King.

© 2017 KING-TV


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