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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP

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Offline Bobcat

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #30 on: December 14, 2006, 09:39:59 AM »
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The Coalition of National Park Service Retirees
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THE COALITION OF
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5625 North Wilmot
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NPS Response To Coalition Budget Survey
breaking news

National Park Service

 

June 15, 2006

David Barna, 202-208-6843

 

Response to Coalition of NPS Retirees' Report Titled

"Reality Check: What visitors to America's National Parks will experience during summer 2006"

 

We appreciate the continued interest in National Parks from organizations such as the Coalition of National Park Service Retirees and others, and the visibility these kinds of reports bring to park issues.

 

No one argues that these are challenging times. The National Park Service, like most agencies, is tightening its belt as our nation rebuilds from Katrina, continues the war on terrorism and strives to reduce the deficit.

 

The NPS will do its part to keep costs down while still fulfilling our stewardship responsibilities for preserving natural and cultural resources, and maintaining high visitor and citizen satisfaction and support.

 

We have new leadership at the Interior Department, which oversees the National Park Service, and Secretary Kempthorne already has committed to make National Parks a top priority, continuing the strong support evidenced by the Bush Administration.

 

Because of additional operating funds provided in the FY 2005 and FY

2006 budgets, and because of savings derived from management improvements and elimination of lower priority activities not considered core to a park's mission, the NPS is sustaining operations at parks. Pay absorptions, across-the-board cuts, and unforeseen circumstances - such as hurricanes and fires - may continue to impact park budgets and visitation. Extended hours at some parks have been reduced, particularly at less visited parks or sections of parks, but other parks and programs have experienced increases.

Individual parks and the NPS as a whole have strived to become more innovative and efficient to ensure that basic visitor services meet public expectations. As a testimonial to success, visitor satisfaction ratings remain at 95 percent or higher among park visitors.

A recent survey (Harris Poll, December 2005) named the Park Service as the most-supported federal agency by our citizens, even higher than Social Security and health care! That means we're doing something right!

 

Public support and volunteerism has been a long American tradition -- it continues to help support our national parks move ahead regardless of spending levels.

 

- NPS -

 

 

 

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Offline presidio

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #31 on: December 14, 2006, 11:44:55 AM »
Quote from: "Casa Grande"
I appreciate your passion against this issue, Presidio.  I understand the arguments and you have some good ones.  However, I've long thought that fees in the park were way under where they should be, especially since congress hasn't been too kind to the Dept of Interior for quite a long time.  After all, I think a bulk of the revenue should come from the people who actually visit the park, not the hot dog vendor on the corner of Broadway and 42nd street.


Well Congress hasn't been kind to the USFS or BLM either, but those agencies aren't continually raising fees and charging for every 'service' in sight and they don't prohibit your use because they can't be there to hold your hand. Mostly, they don't have fees or permits, and certainly none to use the backcountry or being on the land itself.

Note that words and phrases like 'public land' and 'national' have large connotations of a duty to the taxpayer. We all pay taxes for national good, whether we get a direct benefit or not. My taxes go to protect large cities from a not very well defined terrorist threat and to build ineffective border walls. While I won't say neither directly benefits me, the connection is so far away it's hard to see. As to the hot dog vendor, I recall the Wilderness Society exclaiming that just knowing wilderness was out there was a comfort even to people who would never visit it. The same is true for parks and tax revenue that support them.

Your suggestion that the 'bulk' of park revenue should come from actual users is a place you really don't want to go. It would mean, since the NPS can't tolerate your presence unless they are there to watch you, that the parks would be closed as the fees would be so high that no one would be willing to pay and revenue would plummet. On a much smaller scale this is already happening with all the fee hikes. Visitation down 40%? Doesn't take an degree in economics to figure out why. Gas prices have some effect as do the higher costs to enter and use your park.

It would be interesting to see the visitation figures for the tiny number of days that the NPS waives entry fees for parks, like for public land day. What a concept, on 'public land day' you can use your park for no cost. I suspect that those daily figures would show a significant spike in attendance.

You will notice that no one has answered the simple questions I posed in my earlier messages. There are park people on this list. What say they? And, since they can't comment officially, where is their superintendent's press release to explain the compelling need to all of us (internal fee consistency is not a compelling need) and why it was so necessary to do this without an open public process?

If these kinds of things are so wonderful they should be able to weather public examination. We won't know because we never got an opportunity to have a say.

People who are willing to pay any fee because an agency simply says they need it (and their sole rationale is to be consistent with other parks) are exactly the constituency the NPS wants to cultivate. They then do not need to waste time on messy public disclosure.

It is precisely because the majority of park users are complacent and willing to rationalize 'small' or 'reasonable' or 'necessary' fee institutions or increases that the NPS feels no need to have consistent public involvement. As I said before, no other federal land agency has this sort of slavish following where changes in the conditions of use occur without the opportunity for public debate and almost no one cares. What is it about the NPS that makes them feel they are exempt from the public processes all other agencies must follow?

If you look at the current plans open for comment you will find one regarding removing (that means killing in case anyone misunderstands) exotic invasive wildlife species. While they note that such activities could result in a small safety hazard (yep, when you are shooting, trapping or poisoning critters there is some hazard) this action really does not directly affect any visitor and the action itself is a no-brainer. Yet the NPS wants your considered opinion. When it came time to directly affect you with a fee, they couldn't care less about what you think.

I hope you don't wake up one day and find you can't afford to visit your park. It will be too late to reverse the costs at that point. I'm still waiting to see exactly how the backcountry permit fee is really going to be applied.

I hope those who are optimistic about one fee are correct. I won't be surprised if they are not. The park could put this to rest by telling us, officially, exactly how it will work. They haven't and that's a red flag.
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<  presidio  >
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Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Casa Grande

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #32 on: December 14, 2006, 01:19:58 PM »
Presidio, you're a man of few words aren't you?


Quote from: "presidio"

You will notice that no one has answered the simple questions I posed in my earlier messages. There are park people on this list. What say they? And, since they can't comment officially, where is their superintendent's press release to explain the compelling need to all of us (internal fee consistency is not a compelling need) and why it was so necessary to do this without an open public process?


Be patient, i'm sure your questions will be answered by the proper authorities shortly.  Jumping to conclusions is only going to get your philosophical feelings (or pheelings) hurt.

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Offline presidio

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #33 on: December 15, 2006, 01:00:19 PM »
Quote from: "Casa Grande"
Presidio, you're a man of few words aren't you?


Sometimes :shock:


Quote
Jumping to conclusions


I'm not, I'm concerned because an official clarification that should have been released months ago (and after public involvement) still is not available.
_____________
<  presidio  >
_____________
Wendell (Garret Dillahunt): It's a mess, ain't it, sheriff?
Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones): If it ain't, it'll do till the mess gets here.
--No Country for Old Men (2007)

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Offline Casa Grande

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #34 on: December 15, 2006, 02:14:13 PM »
Quote from: "presidio"

I'm not, I'm concerned because an official clarification that should have been released months ago (and after public involvement) still is not available.


no argument here.

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Offline Windchime

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #35 on: December 15, 2006, 09:31:55 PM »
This whole fee thing came down from Washington with no input from the field.  Many, if not most, NPS employees are against raising the fees. They worry that we are pricing a segment of our society out of our parks. I would advise folks to write their congress people for relief and not take it out on the GS-4 Fee Collectors.  There is an agenda in Washington of which this is only a small, but significant part.  The folks inside the Beltway need to hear from the visitors to our National Parks that the fees have or are approaching the tipping point.
The opinion expressed above is my own and not that of the National Park Service or the Federal Government.

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Offline 01ACRViper

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #36 on: December 15, 2006, 10:08:45 PM »
thanks for chiming :lol: in on this Windchime, it's good to hear that what i was hoping the case to be turned out to be true. it's a shame that it takes such a massive influx of criticism from the public to get legislators to change their stubborn minds.

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Offline Picacho

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #37 on: December 16, 2006, 09:54:18 AM »
It seems as if elections these days boil down to just 3 or 4 topics, national parks not one of them.  Even in the state elections, I don't recall anyone being asked about funding for state parks during the debates.  I think it is going to take a group of people to stand up and confront the politicians, just like it is going to take this to stop all of the tollways from going up.  Fees going up at national parks stop the poor from entering the park and tollroads will stop the poor from getting to the park.  Pretty sad if you ask me.

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Offline 01ACRViper

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Big Bend Park Fees Going WAY UP
« Reply #38 on: December 16, 2006, 12:33:03 PM »
Chris Bell mentioned the state park system twice, though he was never asked about it

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Offline Windchime

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Developed Campsite Fees Going UP
« Reply #39 on: January 12, 2007, 09:51:45 AM »
Big Bend National Park News Release


BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK ANNOUNCES INCREASED CAMPING FEES

Effective January 24, 2007, Big Bend National Park will be increasing the developed campground camping fees to $14.00 per site per night. The park developed camping fees were last increased in February, 2003, when the price went from $8.00 to $10.00 per site per night.
 
Big Bend National Park participates in the National Park Service Recreation Fee Demonstration Program.  Eighty percent of the entrance fee revenue collected returns to the park and is used to fund backlogged maintenance and visitor related projects that provide direct benefit to park visitors.  Past fee demonstration projects include the replacement of the Rio Grande Village Nature Trail boardwalk, the installation of a permanent vault toilet at the Hot Springs parking lot, a new interpretive contact station and exhibits at Castolon, and the soon to be expanded Panther Junction Visitor Center.
 :cry:
The opinion expressed above is my own and not that of the National Park Service or the Federal Government.

 


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