Emily Douce, director of budget and appropriations for the National Parks Conservation Association said, "we haven't seen this high of a jump in fees with very little time for the public to comment on what this means to their local economies, and what this means to their businesses or their visitation".
On October 24, the National Park Service announced a proposal to almost triple the entrance fees beginning in 2018 for 17 of its most popular parks during their five-month-long peak seasons. More than 65,000 comments already have been submitted. Individual entrance fees would go from today's cost of $10 to $15, to $30. If the price change is approved, that cost would jump to $70 per vehicle during the peak season at the park, which begins on June 18 and runs five months.
Most of the 17 sites are in the West, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Yellowstone, Zion and Mount Rainier.
In the letter, Becerra offered a glimpse at his legal theory, saying the National Park Service proposal does not adequately take into account the impact of the fee increase on park visitors.
The Park Service says the higher prices are needed to address a maintenance backlog - and has extended a public comment period on the issue until December 22.
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The cost of the annual America the Beautiful- The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which provides entrance to all federal lands, including all national parks for a one-year period, would remain $80.
"Our national parks belong to all of us, but the solution can not be pricing some visitors out of them", she continued. The proposal would increase entry fees for commercial operators and standardize commercial use authorization (CUA) requirements for road-based commercial tours, including application and management fees.
NPS's stated justification for the fee increase is to address the serious maintenance backlog facing the national park system. Written comments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Washington, DC 20240.
A public comment period on the proposal runs until November 23, 2017 on the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website.