Raise the Entrance Fees for Our National Parks

Hiker in Yosemite National Park (Antonina Owen / Getty Images)

A family of four pays $ 4,200 for a week-long pass to Disneyland but $ 35 for a week to Yellowstone. We can pay more for our natural treasures.

Inot My role as your go-to provider of unpopular opinions, I suggest this: we should dramatically increase entrance fees for our national parks.

One of the many disappointments of the Trump administration is that despite his posture in the DGAF, Donald Trump has always been a slave to public opinion, which has made his administration too easy to move. On political issues ranging from immigration to Syria to guns, Trump has repeatedly backed down in the face of public criticism. This was the case with one of the administration’s few good ideas, by modestly increasing entrance fees to national parks. The proposal received over 100,000, overwhelmingly negative public comments, and the Trump team overturned.

Instead of the significant increase that had been proposed, the fees will only increase by $ 5 in most cases.

For the prospect: The price of admission for a week in Yellowstone is $ 35 per vehicle. For a family of four in one Family Truckster, that comes down to $ 5 a day for the whole gang. The cheapest ticket to Disneyland costs over $ 150 per person per day, or $ 4,200 for the same seven days for four people that $ 35 will get you to a national park. It is possible to increase fees for Yellowstone and other very popular parks like this one.

Why do that?

The National Park Service has two perennial complaints: one is that it is underfunded, and the other is that national parks are overcrowded. Call me Machiavellian, but that, my friends, seems to me to be the kind of problem that can be solved – and solved fairly easily: Keep raising the price of tickets until the parks are no longer overcrowded.

People will whine, of course. Want to give the poor a coupon to save your democratic conscience? Well. Easy enough. But don’t tell me how much you appreciate national parks if you’re unwilling to do what’s best for them, even if it’s unpopular.

But if we want to talk about national parks as if they were assets, then it’s time to start treating them as assets. There is no real alternative to rationing access to national parks, and the simplest – and the fairest – the way to ration access is through pricing.

No sane world has entered Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Glacier, etc., only ten dollars more than the cover charge at Assateague Island National Seashore.

We pay for government services out of tax revenues on the theory that we all benefit from these things together and therefore we pay for all of these things together. And there is some truth to this. But do you know who really benefits the most from national parks? People who frequent national parks. I am one of those people, and it makes sense to me that we are the ones who invest the most money.

Some of our Democratic friends like to talk about a so-called Green New Deal, a fantasy in which Americans will willingly endure the disruption, expense, and loss of jobs resulting from an attempt to reorganize industry and government. American agriculture around aesthetics and politics. the preferences of a half-organized group of Brooklyn posers and Sarah Lawrence dormitory radicals. And a lot of people will tell you – and they’re not mistaken about this – that we can’t increase the entrance fee to national parks by a hundred dollars a week because Americans won’t stand it. A country that is not ready for meaningful pricing of Yellowstone is not ready for meaningful pricing on carbon.

Everyone loves Ken Burns’ phrase that national parks are “America’s best idea”. I would go with the Bill of Rights, but the parks are definitely in the top 20.

So act like this.