General Sherman Tree in Sequoia National Park is a stunning thing to behold.
It’s so big, at 275 feet tall and 36 feet wide, that other trees are growing on top of it. And maintaining the trail around it — where more than a million visitors come per year — isn’t free. So, to cover their maintenance shortfalls, the National Park Service needs to raise entrance fees... to $70.
This is nearly double the current cost to enter a National Park ($25-30), and Sequoia isn't alone: the price hike is set to apply to 17 of a possible 417 National Park “units,” which — in addition to parks — include preserves, monuments, historic sites and more). The 17 in question are the most trafficked sites: think Yosemite, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Zion (full list here).
Does paying twice as much to use public lands suck? Yes. Is it necessary? Also yes.
We were recently in Sequoia, where Park Ranger Farrah Kiefer told us that attendance was up between 30-40 percent year over year. Meanwhile, the Parks have a maintenance backlog of $12 billion. Add to that the fact that the new budget calls for $33 million in programmatic increases for construction and deferred maintenance, and you've got yourself one helluva deficit.
So before you groan at the rising cost of everything on this green earth, consider this: everyone hates potholes, but no one likes taxes. Things cost money, and for us to have a nice country and even nicer places to play, we need to pay for it. (Mind you, much of these expenses date back before the current administration.)
Agree? Disagree? Let the NPS know by November 23rd.