Tuesday, June 23, 2015

If you want to watch, say, a bighorn sheep munching on grass at Yellowstone National Park, it'll cost you more this year


Washington Post caption: "A bighorn sheep munches on a blade of grass in Yellowsone National Park (Photo by Erik Petersen/For The Washington Post)" [Click to enlarge.]

by Ken

Trust me, I was going to pass on the story anyway, but as soon as I saw the picture, that became the first story for me.

I suppose it's possible that a check of the Washington Post photo files turned up Erik Petersen's shot of the bighorn sheep munching on a blade of grass in Yellowstone National Park. This would have been a breeze if the Post photo library is digitized; just type "Yellowstone" into the search line and see what comes up.

But I like to imagine a (slightly updated) Front Page-ier-type scene:
The Post editor handling Lisa Rein's report, which will eventually run as "Fees are going up at 130 national parks, many doubling, even tripling, for first time since 2006," has Lisa's draft text up on his (or her) screen. He (or she) gets the photo editor on the horn.

EDITOR: Can we get someone to a national park -- Jellystone, maybe? that'd be perfect! -- to shoot some shots that just cry out "Jellystone!"?
PHOTO EDITOR [chomping on his (or her?) cigar, after thinking a moment]: Lemme check the roster. Yeah, chief, Petersen's free. He's great with that kind of shit.
EDITOR [smiling]: Great! Get him on a plane! Tell him, I don't know, maybe like a bighorn sheep munching on a blade of grass.
PHOTO EDITOR [taking cigar out of his (or her?) mouth]: You got it, chief!
Well, it could have gone down that way! Oh, it could too!

Fees are going up at 130 national parks, many doubling, even tripling, for first time since 2006

By Lisa Rein
June 23 at 7:00 AM

Just as summer begins, 130 national parks across the country are starting to charge visitors more to get inside, with entrance fees doubling and even tripling at some sites.

The increases are the first since 2006 and are taking effect at both the crown jewels in the park system — including Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon — and at small monuments and historic sites. Visitors entering in a car, the most common way Americans see the parks, are paying more, along with those entering on foot, motorcycle and buying annual passes.


"The fees vary widely," Lisa notes, "as do the increases."
About 70 parks started charging higher fees in the spring. The rest will be phased in gradually, officials said, some not until 2016, when the park service celebrates its centennial. Some proposals could change in the coming months, but Park Service spokesperson Kathy Kupper says that Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis has "pretty much approved all of the requests."
Yes, yes, you say, but can we be more specific?
Among the largest parks, the new prices range from $50 for an annual pass at Arches in southeast Utah (up from $25) to $30 for a car to get into the Grand Tetons in northwest Wyoming, up from $25. And close to the Washington region, the per-person fee to see the Manassas Battlefield is $7, up from $3, while the Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park is charging $15 per vehicle, up from $10. Motorcyclists are getting hit with some of the steepest increases; Joshua Tree in southeast California is now charging them $20, up from $5, for example.


Wait, got that right here!
Visitors also should prepare for higher fees to camp, shower, paddleboat and tour caves at a total of 176 parks as the National Park Service boosts fees for amenities too.


While "almost every park that now charges fees is raising them,"
about two-thirds of the system of 407 parks, historic sites and monuments is free and will stay that way.


First, Park Service officials aren't shy about reminding us --
that entrance fees across the system have not changed since 2008, and that the majority have not increased since 2006. Higher prices were banned since then, largely because the park service wanted to keep prices low and boost visitors during the recession. Parks Director Jonathan Jarvis lifted the ban this year, telling park superintendents last fall to begin the public meetings and outreach that must go with any increases.
Then those officials "say the increases are needed to help them get to a backlog in construction projects, many of them vital to the visitor experience."
The agency’s maintenance needs have piled up for years as cuts from Congress have eroded both operating and capital budgets. Half of all paved roads in the national park system have been designated as in fair to poor condition, park officials said in a report last year. More than two dozen bridges need repair, as do more than one-third of the hiking trails — some 6,700 miles.

“Basically the money is used to enhance visitor services,” said Kathy Kupper, a park service spokeswoman, “like building a trail or picnic area, or an education center.”

The park service says the money expected to be raised is just a fraction of the $11.5 billion needed to repair and maintain roads, trails and park buildings.
Hey, it's not as if those bighorn sheep grow their own grass.



At 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS ARTICLE. Americans say that they care deeply about National Parks but then again they are tending to elect Rethuglicans and Lazy Democrats who don't want to raise taxes. What else can the National Park System do?

I would prefer low fees so that all people who would like to go to Parks can afford to you. But, that would require people to stop being greedy and care about equal opportunity. The same is true with public education and public libraries and other once greatly appreciated institutions. Wealth is not hoarding monery but spending, circulating it in society so that jobs in education and other public services are created. Right now the National Parks are sorely underfunded and understaffed and people still expect the same services.

Let's get real and make sure not blame the victim. The current Congress is to blame as it continues looting the country of its civic pride and sense of well-being. Congress sets the budgets of the National Parks,Bureau of Land Management (public lands), US Fish and Wildlife Service (refuges), and the US Forest Service (national forests). They are in shabby condition because Congress is cheap and Congress members are often elected by cheap voting people and lazy non-voting people.

At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The bloodier outrage is that no one at the WaPo can distinguish a shrub from (non-existent) grass.

OK, I'll concede, this falls under simple ignorance and/or sloppiness ... instead of the usual indictment re groveling lackeys of plutocrats.

John Puma


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