Tester: Don’t Price Montana Families Out of Glacier and Yellowstone
Senator Submits Public Comment on National Park Fee Increase, Tells Secretary Not to Shift Costs to Visitors
(U.S. Senate)-U.S. Senator Jon Tester today slammed the Department of Interior’s proposal to significantly increase entrance fees at Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks.
Tester submitted public comment on the Department’s controversial proposal to double the “peak season” entrance fees for 17 national parks, including Glacier and Yellowstone, from $30 per vehicle to $70 per vehicle. Tester raised concerns that more expensive entrance fees will restrict many Montanans and other visitors from seeing Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks, and will hurt local businesses.
“Americans own these parks and they shouldn’t have to empty their wallets to gain access and enjoy them,” Tester wrote. “I am concerned this fee increase will price Montana families out of our public lands and undercut our growing outdoor economy.”
Tester highlighted that visitors to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks spent $547 million in Montana-owned businesses in 2016, which helped sustain more than 9,000 jobs.
Tester also pushed back on the Department’s claim that the entrance fee increase is needed to pay for the National Park Service’s $11.3 billion maintenance backlog. In his comment, Tester emphasized that an entrance fee increase would generate only $69 million-less than one percent of the funds needed to address the maintenance backlog.
Earlier this year, President Trump proposed cutting $378 million from the National Park Service budget, including $93 million from the operations and maintenance budget that is one of the key resources the agency uses to address the deferred maintenance backlog.
Rather than increase entrance fees for Montana families, Tester called on the Department to work with Congress to address funding for the maintenance backlog without threatening Montanans’ access to national parks.
“I encourage you to work creatively with the President and Congress to develop a more realistic approach to addressing the differed maintenance backlog while still allowing Montanans to afford to visit their national parks and enjoy the beauty they offer,” Tester added.
Montanans have until November 23rd to submit public comment on the entrance fee increase proposal HERE.
Tester’s public comment is available HERE.