You Now Have More Time to Protest National Park Fee Hikes
Following widespread outrage, the National Parks Service (NPS) has extended the comment period for the public to weigh in on the proposed rate hikes at 17 of the most popular national parks across the country.
The comment period now closes Dec. 22, 2017. The original deadline had been set for Thursday.
Under the Trump administration's highly criticized proposal, the entrance fee will be $70 per private, non-commercial vehicle, $50 per motorcycle, and $30 per person during peak-season. That's nearly triple the current rate for some parks.
According to the proposal, the 17 parks targeted are top revenue generators, collecting 70 percent of the total of all entrance fees throughout the country. The raised fees will generate an estimated $70 million per year and will help pay for the Park Service's $11.3 billion in needed park repairs, including improving facilities and infrastructure and enhancing visitor services.
But according to the nonprofit National Parks Conservation Association, the revenue generated would address less than one percent of the backlog needs, and comes amid President Trump's calls to cut the NPS budget by 13 percent—the largest cut to the agency since World War II.
"Doubling and tripling park fees is not the answer to our parks' fiscal challenges," Emily Douce, Director of Budget & Appropriations at National Parks Conservation Association said. "Raising park fees to such a degree could limit families' ability to enjoy our parks, harm local businesses and will not even keep the repair backlog from growing. The Department of the Interior should use this extended time to get out to these parks and listen to community members, elected officials and local businesses that would be most impacted by these fee hikes just as it did during the last major, but modest fee increase in over 100 parks."
"Our national parks belong to all of us, but the solution cannot be pricing some visitors out of them," she continued. "American families should not be forced to pay today for what Congress and the administration have failed to do. Rather than put its energy behind an ill-conceived plan to rapidly increase fees, the administration needs to work with Congress on real solutions to our parks' budget challenges, including increasing annual federal funding and passing the National Park Service Legacy Act."
Access to the majority of National Park Service sites remains free; only 118 of 417 National Park Service sites charge an entrance fee. Public comments provide important feedback to help determine where, or if, peak season fee rates will be implemented.
"It is welcome news that the administration listened to the public's call for more time for gateway communities and the American people to voice their opinions on the proposed fee increases. Our voices must be heard and we encourage the public to continue speaking out," Douce said.
The announcement of the proposed rate increases sparked intense criticism. The Sierra Club recently organized an event where park advocates delivered more than 150,000 comments against the proposal.
“I have spent 15 years working to connect children and families with nature and am all too familiar with the barriers that prevent many communities from feeling welcomed in their public lands," said Jackie Ostfeld, associate director of Sierra Club's Outdoors campaign. "With this one move, the Trump administration will price many people out of our natural wonders—undermining years of progress in advancing equity and access to our parks. President Trump and Secretary Zinke must abandon this plan."
To submit a comment click here or write to 1849 C St. NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, DC 20240.
The 17 targeted parks are:
● Acadia National Park
● Arches National Park
● Bryce Canyon National Park
● Canyonlands National Park
● Denali National Park
● Glacier National Park
● Grand Canyon National Park
● Grand Teton National Park
● Joshua Tree National Park
● Mount Rainier National Park
● Rocky Mo untain National Park
● Olympic National Park
● Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park
● Shenandoah National Park
● Yellowstone National Park
● Yosemite National Park
● Zion National Park
- Thom Yorke of Radiohead Releases Song With Greenpeace to Help ... ›
- Patti Smith, Thom Yorke, Flea and More Featured on Just Released ... ›
- Musicians and Activists Unite at 'Pathway to Paris' - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
A national park in Thailand has come up with an innovative way to make sure guests clean up their own trash: mail it back to them.
- Supermarkets in Thailand and Vietnam Swap Plastic Packaging for ... ›
- Malaysia Sends Plastic Waste Back to 13 Wealthy Countries, Says It ... ›
- Thailand Begins the New Year With Plastic Bag Ban - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Worsens Thailand's Plastic Waste Crisis - EcoWatch ›
- Marium, Thailand's Beloved Baby Dugong, Is the Latest Victim of ... ›
By Ilana Cohen
Four years ago, Jacob Abel cast his first presidential vote for Donald Trump. As a young conservative from Concord, North Carolina, the choice felt natural.
But this November, he plans to cast a "protest vote" for a write-in candidate or abstain from casting a ballot for president. A determining factor in his 180-degree turn? Climate change.
Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
- 7 Republicans Joined Senate Democrats in Vote to Fight Climate ... ›
- Climate Change Acknowledged by Increasing Number of ... ›
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced Monday that 64 high-income nations have joined an effort to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine fairly, prioritizing the most vulnerable citizens, as Science reported. The program is called the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access Facility, or Covax, and it is a joint effort led by the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- CDC Tells States to Prepare for a Vaccine Before November Election ›
- Fauci Warns Pre-Pandemic Normalcy Not Likely Until Late 2021 ... ›
By Gloria Oladipo
In the face of dangerous heat waves this summer, Americans have taken shelter in air conditioned cooling centers. Normally, that would be a wise choice, but during a pandemic, indoor shelters present new risks. The same air conditioning systems that keep us cool recirculate air around us, potentially spreading the coronavirus.