Park service extends comment period for RMNP fee increase proposal | SkyHiNews.com

Park service extends comment period for RMNP fee increase proposal

Visitors to Rocky Mountain National Park photograph the Never Summer Range from Farview Curve on Trail Ridge Road on Monday afternoon. The road opened for the season on Monday--the third earliest opening on record. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News | Sky-Hi News

Citizens who want to offer their two cents on a proposal to raise entrance fees at Rocky Mountain National Park, along with 16 other national parks, will have 30 more days to submit their comments.

Officials from the National Park Service announced plans Tuesday to extend the comment period for the proposed peak-season entrance fee increase for an additional 30 days, until Dec. 22. The extension of the comment period followed a request by U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) to lengthen the amount of time concerned citizens would have to submit formal comments. The request by Gardner, and action taken by the Park Service, extends comment periods for the proposed entrance fee increases as well as requirements and fees for road-based commercial tours.

“I am thankful to Acting Director (Mike) Reynolds for heeding my call and extending the comment period,” Gardner stated in a press release.”

Gardner’s initial request to extend the comment period was sent to the National Park Service earlier this month. In his letter Gardner stated, “Given the large volume of responses … and the impact of this new policy, it is important that you provide more than thirty days for the public to participate in the comment periods on these issues.”

Gardner goes on to contend that raising entrance fees to the degree the Park Service has proposed could, “unfairly burden the public and create new barriers to the visitors that you hope to reach and inspire.”

The National Park Service announced its proposal to increase park entrance fees at Rocky and 16 other national parks earlier this fall. The proposal would increase entrance fees at the 17 selected parks during designated “peak season” times. The designated peak season for Rocky Mountain National Park would run from June 1 through Oct. 31 each year.

If the Park Service moves ahead with the fee increase plan, vehicles entering Rocky would pay $70 during peak season, up from the $30 currently charged. Additionally, per-person entrance fee at Rocky would double from the current rate of $15 to the new rate of $30. Motorcycle entrance fees would also increase under the proposal, doubling as well, from $25 currently to $50.

While the America The Beautiful Pass would see no change, remaining at $80, an annual, season-long pass to Rocky, purchased at any time of year, would increase from the current $60 fee to $75.

If approved the additional revenue generated from the higher entrance fees, estimated as high as an additional $70 million per year, would be applied to the Park Service’s deferred maintenance backlog. Rocky Mountain National Park has over $75 million in deferred maintenance projects alone. Under federal law, 80 percent of entrance fee dollars remain at the park where they were collected while the other 20 percent is distributed to other national parks.

The proposal applies to 17 national parks around the country but only Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado would be impacted. Colorado’s other national parks ­— Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Mesa Verde, and Great Sand Dunes — would not be impacted by the proposal.


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