Rocky Mountain National Park reviews proposal to increase entrance fees | SummitDaily.com

Rocky Mountain National Park reviews proposal to increase entrance fees

Lance Maggart
lmaggart@skyhidailynews.com

GRAND LAKE — Just in time for the 100th Anniversary of Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) the National Park Service is proposing raising entrance fees at Park Service sites throughout the nation, including here.

The proposed fee increases would begin in the summer of 2015 at the earliest with the possibility that increases at some parks may be phased in over time and may not be increased until 2016 or 2017.

According to an article by Jason Blevins of The Denver Post, RMNP is considering a 50 percent fee increase.

In a memo dated Aug. 19, Park Service director Jon Jarvis outlined basic features of the nationwide federal proposal. The various parks in the U.S. will spend the fall and winter engaging the public to document support for the increase or any concerns.

The memo states, "Each Regional Director must verify that there is general public support for proposed fee changes at each park." Responses are due back by March 2, 2015.

Once increased fee rates have been approved by the Park Service director, the parks will begin implementing the fee rate changes. Fee rate changes may vary from park to park.

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The proposed fee increases could significantly impact communities surrounding the National Parks.

"I really hate the fact that they have to raise the fees, but I know that there are millions and millions of dollars in back-logged maintenance that needs to be performed," said Grand Lake Mayor Judy Burke. "I do believe there are a number of people who may not be able to go to the Park because of the increased costs. Hopefully some of those people will be able to take advantage of fee free days."

RMNP public information officer Kyle Patterson declined to comment on the proposed fee increases until the completion of the RMNP internal review. She did provide background information on the park's entrance fees.

"There continues to be a growing need for funds to improve facilities, infrastructure and visitor services in parks," said Patterson. "The new revenue from the fee increases would be used to provide enhanced visitor services including repair and maintenance of facilities, capital improvements, enhanced amenities, resource protection, and additional visitor programs and services."

RMNP has been collecting entrance fees since 1939. The most recent fee increase occurred in April 2009 when the RMNP Annual Pass was increased from $35 to $40. According to the Denver Post article, vehicle entrance fees in RMNP doubled from $5 to $10 in 1996 and climbed to $15 in 2001. Then, in 2005, according to the article, the fee increased to $20.

Public review of the proposed fee increases is scheduled for October.