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April 13, 2018

Fee increase at Acadia National Park far less than original hike

Photo / Dave Clough
Photo / Dave Clough
One of the many vistas of Acadia National Park. The park, which provides a major boost to Maine's summer tourism industry, is one the national parks that will see a fee increase as a way of generating revenue for infrastructure improvements, although the increase is lower than initially proposed.

The U.S. Department of the Interior has backed down from its proposal for steep entrance fee increases at numerous national parks, including Acadia National Park, opting for more modest increases instead.

According to The Associated Press, the Interior Department is increasing fees by $5 per vehicle, backing down from an earlier plan of charging $70 per vehicle. The current fee is $25 per private vehicle.

According to a National Park Service news release this week, the revised plan comes in response to public comments on a fee proposal released in October 2017. The plan is expected to raise additional revenue to address the $11.6 billion in deferred maintenance across the system of 417 parks, historic and cultural sites, and monuments.

The plan will be implemented in many parks beginning June 1.

More than two-thirds of national parks will remain free to enter.

Fee hikes to support infrastructure work

All of the revenue from the fee increases will remain in the National Park Service, with at least 80% of the money staying in the park where it is collected. Increased attendance at parks, 1.5 billion visits in the last five years, means aging park facilities are incurring further wear and tear.

The plan affects the 117 fee-charging parks as opposed to the larger increases originally proposed proposed for 17 highly visited national parks.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.

Entrance fees collected by the NPS totaled $199 million in fiscal year 2016. The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

The revenue will go for improvements to aging infrastructure, including roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms and other visitor services.

The original proposal called for the $70 entrance fee per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle and $30 per person on bike or foot. A park-specific annual pass for any of the 17 parks would be $75.

Acadia currently charges an entrance fee for private vehicles of $25, for motorcycles $20 and for individuals $12. The annual pass goes for $50.

For Acadia, the latest plan calls for an entrance fee for private vehicles of $30, for motorcycles $25 and for individuals $15. The annual pass will be $55.

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