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Officials seek feedback on proposed fee increase at national parks in southern Utah

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Posted at 9:34 PM, Jan 08, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-08 23:34:31-05

CEDAR CITY, Utah – Iron County residents got the chance to voice their opinion in person about a proposed fee increase at three of southern Utah’s national parks.

Thursday, superintendents with Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and Cedar Breaks National Monument held an open house to answer questions about the proposed entrance fee increase and collect public comment. The increases are proposed by the parks themselves, but in general they would increase entrance fees between $5 and $10.

Zion National Park Superintendent Jeff Bradybaugh said the last time the park raised fees was in 2007, but costs have increased. He said that’s mostly due to an increase in visitors. Since 2009, the number of visitors to Zion National Park has gone up almost 15 percent. Seventy percent of the entrance fees at Zion go to operate the shuttle, which runs daily to transport visitors to the end of Zion Canyon and into Springdale.

“Obviously there’s maintenance on all these facilities, “ Bradybaugh said. “We’re always concerned about the cost to the visitor because we certainly want to be careful that it doesn’t limit some people’s ability to come.”

Bradybaugh said the National Park Service recommends a fee increase about every 10 years to keep up with demand. The majority of those who attended Thursday’s open house said they understand fees need to be raised. Some, however, oppose it.

Iron County resident Janet Carver said she’d like to see the budgets and have more public input on how the parks are run.

“Where people come in like this could look at it and say, well here, lets remove some money form this and funnel it into this,” Carver said. “This is where the people in general really want that money to be used.”

At this point, it is still just a proposal. The parks will take public comment through January 23 and will likely make a decision sometime in the spring. Bradybaugh said any changes would likely go into effect in May.

Comments are being taken online. Click the links for the various parks below.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Zion National Park

Cedar Breaks National Monument