More time for park fee comments

There will be another month for people to speak their mind as a result of a virtual mountain of reaction from the public to the National Park Service proposal for a hefty peak-season visitor fee at 17 parks around the country, including Mount Rainier.

The National Park Service announced last week that it will extend the comment period to Dec. 22. It originally was supposed to end on Nov. 23.

Since the period opened on Oct. 24, more than 65,000 comments have been received, park officials said.

At issue is whether visitors should pay an admission fee of $70 per carload – nearly three times what it costs now -- to drive into Mount Rainier National Park and 16 other parks in the federal system during peak visitor seasons. That's the proposal that was formally announced in October by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke.

The peak-season fees, which would take effect June 1 at Mount Rainier, are intended to help pay for upgrades of roads, campgrounds and other park amenities.

The public can comment at and by mail to National Park Service, Recreation Fee Program, 1849 C St. NW, Mail Stop 2346, Washington, DC 20240.

Commenters on the Park Service Facebook page have alternated between supporting the need for park revenue and claiming the proposed fee is unfair or too high.


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