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If approved, the price increase will disproportionately impact low-income families who already lack reasonable access to green spaces and likely stymie efforts to increase diversity in national parks.

We’re more than halfway through winter in the Northern Hemisphere and temperatures are starting to warm. Families across America are beginning to plan their spring break and summer vacations, but anyone hoping to take an educational trip to one of our nation’s historic parks might be in for a costly surprise. Seventeen of the nation’s most popular national parks, including Shenandoah, Yosemite, Yellowstone and Grand Canyon, may double admission costs during their five-month peak season beginning this year. Entry at these parks currently costs between $25 and $30 per vehicle year-round. Under the new pricing structure, entry would cost $70 per vehicle during a five-month peak season. Per-person entry fees, $10-$15 at the current rate, would rise to $30 during peak season. In a statement, Trump appointee and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the fee increases, saying it’s meant to address the park service’s over $12 billion backlog of deferred maintenances. What it fails to acknowledge is that these price increases wouldn’t even be necessary had the Trump administration not so severely slashed the agency’s 2018 budget, forcing them to pass the costs along to visitors. It was in light of these changes that more than three-quarters of the bipartisan National Park System Advisory Board resigned, expressing frustration over Zinke’s refusal to seek their counsel or convene a single meeting since his appointment in December 2016. Board members consist of social and natural science academics as well as former elected officials and serve as unpaid volunteers. In recent years, they have advised Interior on climate change amongst other issues.

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