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Public comment sought for proposed fee increases at Zion National Park

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Posted at 7:29 PM, Dec 08, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-09 16:45:23-05

SPRINGDALE, Utah — Officials with Zion National Park and other national park service units are seeking public comment on proposed increases to camping, entrance and wilderness permit fees.

If the increases were approved they would go into effect January 2016.

Zion National Park retains 80 percent of the recreation fees it collects under the authority of the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, according to a press release from Zion National Park.

“The fee revenue is critical to the park,” said Jeff Bradybaugh, superintendent of the park. “Funds from entrance, camping and other fees are used to improve and maintain our facilities and provide valuable visitor services.”

Fee revenue from the park’s entrance stations and campgrounds provided funding for more than 24 major projects since 2010, the release stated. The projects focused on improvements to visitor services, facilities and visitor safety.

The last time entrance fees for Zion were increased was in 2007. The camping fees date back to 2004 and the wilderness permits to 2005.

The public comment period is open for 45 days from Dec. 9 through Jan. 23.

Those under the age of 16 are not charged to enter the park.

Costs for passes covered under the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass program will not change at this time. Those passes include: Interagency Annual, Interagency Senior, Interagency Military, Interagency Access and Volunteer.

Public comment can be made online at www.parkplanning.nps.gov/zion.

More information on passes can be found at www.nps.gov.

An open house for the proposed fee increases for Zion and its sister parks Cedar Breaks National Monument and Bryce Canyon National Park, will take place Jan. 8 at the Brian Head Tourism office in Cedar City, located at 581 N. Main Street, from 5 to 7 p.m.

Entrance fees

More than 70 percent of entrance fees are used to operate the shuttle bus system, the release stated.

The shuttles are 15 years old and maintenance costs are increasing, the release indicated. The increase in entrance fees would help maintain shuttle facilities along with aging buses. It will also help to begin to replace the fleet.

The proposed increases are:

-1-7 day private non-commercial vehicles Current fee: $25 per car; Proposed fee: $30 per car

-1-7 day motorcycle Current fee: $12 per person; Proposed fee: $25 per motorcycle

-1-7 day per person (hiker, bicyclist, etc.) Current fee: $12 person; Proposed fee: $15 per person

-Annual pass Current fee: $50; Proposed fee: $60

Campground revenue

The proposed increased revenue will be used to maintain and rehabilitate the park’s three campgrounds.

Projects include upgrading restrooms and other facilities to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The revenue would also address electric power costs at the sites. The release states the revenue has not kept up with the rising costs resulting in the sites operating at a deficit.

The proposed increases for Watchman and South campgrounds are:

– Campsites without electric hookups Current fee: $16; Proposed fee: $20

-Campsites with electric hookups Current fee: $18-20; Proposed fee: $30

Group camp fees are also proposed to change from $3 per person to flat rates per group size. The possible changes are:

7-15 people: $50

16-25 people: $90

26-40 people: $130

Wilderness permits

The proposed increase would ensure wilderness resources and experiences are protected for visitors.

Proposed changes are:

1-2 people Current: $10; Proposed: $15

3-7 people Current: $15; Proposed: $20

8-12 people Current: $20; Proposed: $25