RELEASE: After Public Response Interior Department Reverses Course on National Parks Entrance Fee Increases

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2018

Contact: Jackie Ostfeld, 202-548-6584; contact@outdoorsallianceforkids.org

After Public Response Interior Department Reverses Course on National Parks Entrance Fee Increases
Victory for Kids and Families Everywhere

Washington, DC — News reports indicate that the Department of the Interior will withdraw plans to increase fees for visitors to U.S. national parks. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke had previously proposed to increase fees to as much as $70 per vehicle at seventeen of our most iconic national parks. It appears the proposal is being reversed while the Department of the Interior pursues other options for raising revenue for our national parks. This decision comes following an overwhelming public response and increasing pressure from their representatives in Congress.

In response, the Outdoors Alliance for Kids Founder & Chair Jackie Ostfeld released the following statement:

“The Interior Department’s decision to withdraw its proposal to raise fees in our national parks is a victory for kids and families everywhere. America’s youth are spending more time indoors and less time in nature than any generation in history. Raising fees nearly 200% would have created an unnecessary barrier to entry for many young people at a time when we need to be encouraging our children to explore the natural world.

Time in nature makes us healthier, happier, and smarter. The Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK) believes that all kids and families should have access, opportunities, and encouragement to visit our parks and public lands. In addition to keeping entrance fees affordable for working families, OAK supports measures to encourage participation in the outdoors, such as the Every Kid in a Park program, which offers free admission to fourth graders and their families to national public lands, waters, and shores. This and other pass programs currently support the engagement of fourth graders, seniors, people with disabilities, and active duty military service members in our parks, and help create a legacy of engagement in the outdoors that drives participation and supports local economies.

We appreciated the opportunity to weigh in on the Administration’s initial proposal, and are grateful to OAK members and the more than 100,000 individuals who made their voices heard through the open comment period. We continue to urge the Administration to work with Congress to identify adequate funding for our national parks, public lands, and their ongoing maintenance.”

In December, OAK commissioned a bipartisan national poll to better understand public opinion on the proposal to raise national park entrance fees. The poll found that nearly seven-in-ten Americans (68%) oppose the proposed fee increase, including majorities across all political and major demographic groups. It also found  that 64% of Americans would be less likely to visit a park if the fees were increased at the proposed rate of nearly 200%. That number spiked to 71% among households with incomes under $30,000. When it comes to funding national parks, Americans overwhelming believe that increasing federal funding (72%) is a better approach than increasing entrance fees (28%).

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About the Outdoors Alliance for Kids (OAK): OAK is a national strategic partnership of organizations from diverse sectors with a common interest in connecting children, youth, and families with the outdoors. The members of OAK are brought together by the belief that the wellness of current and future generations, the health of our planet and communities, and the economy of the future depend on humans having a personal, direct, and life-long relationship with nature and the outdoors. OAK brings together nearly 100 businesses and organizations to address the growing divide between children, youth, and the outdoors.