Joining a bipartisan coalition of 11 attorneys general, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin today expressed his strong opposition to the National Park Service's (NPS) proposal to dramatically increase entrance fees at 17 national parks. Under the proposal, the per vehicle entrance fee during the five-month peak season would increase to $70 from $25 or $30. Motorcycle, bicycle and pedestrian entrance fees would also increase by double or more.
"As Rhode Islanders, we hold dear our unfettered access to our parks, our beaches and coastline, and other open spaces, and while our state is not directly impacted by this latest move, we cannot stand by and let this Administration jack up prices to our national parks without justification. It is even a bigger slap in the face to the millions of working and middle-class Americans who are currently able to enjoy America's beauty at a family-friendly cost when at the same time the President is trying to overhaul the tax code to benefit the wealthiest Americans," said Attorney General Kilmartin
In their comment letter to the NPS, Attorney General Kilmartin and his fellow attorneys general make three main points:
o NPS's stated justification for the fee increase is to address the serious maintenance backlog facing the national park system. However, the proposal could well reduce revenue by lowering visitation rates, and it comes at the same time that the Trump Administration is proposing the cut NPS's budget by far more than any increased fees might generate;
o NPS has failed to consider or provide any data to support the criteria it must consider pursuant to the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act of 2004, including the "aggregate effect of recreation fees on recreation users" or "the public policy or management objectives served by the recreation fee;"
o NPS's Washington-centric approach, announcing the proposed fees for 17 parks without any detailed analysis or prior outreach to impacted communities and setting a short comment period that includes major holidays, is designed to minimize input from the American public to whom the national parks belong.
Joining Attorney General Kilmartin in sending today's comment letter were the Attorneys General of Arizona, California, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Washington, and the District of Columbia.