By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Entrance fees for the country’s national parks must be raised to pay for the backlog of maintenance projects at those parks, according to U.S. Sen. Mike Enzi.
Enzi has unveiled his proposed amendment to the Great American Outdoors Act, which aims to address the maintenance backlog at parks at a cost of about $12 billion.
Simply appropriating money to complete the maintenance projects would amount to a “one-time fix that is neither responsible nor permanent,” he said during his comments in support of his amendment.
He added that his amendment would address the backlog responsibly and permanently without adding to the nation’s debt.
“Without some changes, this legislation will force our country to borrow more money, burying us deeper in debt, and only provide funding for five years,” Enzi said earlier this week. “Fixing this bill will help ensure we no longer have to put our parks’ current obligations on the backs of future generations.”
Enzi’s amendment would increase fees for foreign visitors entering the United States. According to the U.S. Travel Association, nearly 40% of people who travel to the country from abroad are visiting one national park, amounting to more than 14 million people.
The amendment would also raise entrance fees for U.S. citizens by $5 and the cost for annual passes by $20, to a total of $100.
Enzi emphasized that bringing a vehicle into a park would still be cheaper than taking a family of four to a movie or visiting an amusement park for a day.
“No one likes to pay more for things, especially during times like these, but to maintain these national treasures for future generations, we either borrow money and put it on the national credit card or we take some modest steps to address the issues responsibly.”