The National Park Service (NPS) announced today that Olympic National Park will modify its entrance fees beginning June 1, 2018 to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs that enhance the visitor experience. Effective June 1, 2018 the park entrance fee will be $30 per vehicle or $25 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $55.
The NPS last October proposed a plan to adopt seasonal pricing at Olympic National Park and 16 other national parks to raise additional revenue for infrastructure and maintenance needs. The fee structure announced today addresses many concerns and ideas provided by the public on how best to address fee revenue for parks.
Revenue from entrance fees remains in the National Park Service and helps ensure a quality experience for all who visit. Here in Olympic National Park, 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor. We share the other 20 percent of entry fee income with other national parks for their projects.
“Entrance fees are a critical source of revenue for the park in fulfilling our commitment to providing a quality experience for all visitors,” said park superintendent Sarah Creachbaum. “The rehabilitation of our main park visitor center was funded largely through entrance fees. We look forward to addressing deferred maintenance projects including aging wastewater treatment systems with the additional revenue.”
The additional revenue from entrance fees at Olympic National Park will fund projects such as the replacement of the Log Cabin and Barnes Point wastewater treatment plants at Lake Crescent, Kalaloch water system improvements, rehabilitation of the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center and installation of new interpretive exhibits, road improvements to reduce congestion at Heart O’ the Hills entrance station on Hurricane Ridge Road, and improvements to comfort stations and campsites in campgrounds across the park.
National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Throughout the country, the combination of aging infrastructure and increased visitation affects park roads, bridges, buildings, campgrounds, water systems, bathrooms, and other facilities. Maintenance deferred on these facilities amounts to $11.6 billion nationwide backlog.
Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 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.
Olympic National Park has had an entrance fee since 1987. The current rate of $25 per vehicle has been in effect since 2015. The park is one of 117 in the National Park System that charges an entrance fee. The remaining 300 sites are free to enter.
The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.
The National Park Service has a standardized entrance fee structure, composed of four groups based on park size and type.
The complete fee schedule will change according to the following:
|Olympic National Park|
|Park-Specific Annual Pass|
|June 1, 2018||$30||$25||$15||$55|
For more information about visiting Olympic National Park, please visit the park website at www.nps.gov/olym.
On Thursday, the Department of the Interior announced it would raise entry fees at most National Parks by $5 per car. This is a major reversal of the Administration’s initial plan, which proposed tripling entry fees at the 17 most popular National Parks, including Olympic National Park. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the original sponsor of the National Park Service Legacy Act made the following statement:
“It is good news that park visitors and local economies are going to be spared from outrageous fee hikes. Today’s news is a testament to the power of the folks in our region who used their voices to speak out against the Administration’s initial proposal,” Rep. Derek Kilmer said. “Raising park fees won’t do anything to address the $11 billion park maintenance backlog. The National Park Service Legacy Act will. Congress should pass it so generations of Americans can fully enjoy our National Parks.”
Yesterday, Kilmer raised this issue with Secretary Ryan Zinke at a hearing covering the Department of the Interior’s budget. Zinke said he was, “very supportive of any mechanism that would address a backlog.”
The National Park Service Legacy Act would generate dedicated funding for park maintenance over the next 50 years. The amount of funds would be scaled in the following way:
- $50 million a year in fiscal years 2018-20.
- $150 million a year in fiscal 2021-23.
- $250 million a year in fiscal 2024-26.
- $500 million a year in fiscal 2027-47.
The National Park Service Legacy Act would address the backlog by distributing revenue the government receives from oil and gas royalties back into a restoration fund. It has been endorsed by the National Parks Conservation Association, Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Late last year, the Department of the Interior proposed a plan to almost triple the fee for visitors to enter the national parks from $25 per car to $70 in order to pay for maintenance. It announced today that the fees would only increase by $5 per car.
Kilmer opposed the original fee hike. He led events in Washington state to encourage his constituents to weigh in against the proposal during the public comment period. According to The Seattle Times, raising park fees would do little to reduce the maintenance backlog.
According to the National Park Service, in 2016 the 3,390,221 people who visited Olympic National Park spent $286,786,300 in communities near the park. That spending supported 3,842 jobs in the local area and had a cumulative benefit to the local economy of $398,689,900.
The same study found that for every $1 dollar invested in the National Park Service, an estimated $10 are returned to the nation’s economy. And, it’s estimated that the 331 million visitors to the nation’s national parks spend $18.4 billion in communities within 60 miles of a national park.