October 20, 2018
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Backlash forces National Park Service to trim entrance fee increase at Acadia

Bill Trotter | BDN
Bill Trotter | BDN
A handful of visitors walk and watch the surf on Sand Beach in Acadia National Park on Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Federal officials have decided to increase entrance fees at the park less than anticipated, to $30.

With Acadia National Park due to start its busiest season on Sunday, the Interior Department has significantly cut entrance fee increases at Acadia and other parks.

Effective June 1, Acadia’s weekly fees will increase to $30 per car, $25 per motorcycle and $15 per bicycle. That’s an additional $5 per car and motorcycle and $3 per bike, spokeswoman Christie Anastasia said Friday.

The one-year entrance fee, meanwhile, will increase from $50 to $55, Anastasia said.

[Acadia broke another attendance record in 2017]

Part of a nationwide increase in park service fees, the news means the rescinding of a proposed $70 fee, one of the most dramatic plans offered by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to address the National Park Service’s $11.6 billion maintenance backlog.

The backlog “isn’t going to be solved overnight and will require a multi-tiered approach as we work to provide badly needed revenue to repair infrastructure,” Zinke said in a statement released Thursday.

The $70-per-vehicle fee drew widespread opposition last fall. Critics claimed it could exclude many Americans from enjoying the parks. The agency received more than 109,000 comments on the plan, most of them opposed.

Eighty percent of the entrance fee Acadia collects are spent in Acadia. The money helps fund maintenance projects, which this year includes the rehabilitation of the Hulls Cove Visitor Center, removal of trees knocked over by winter storms, the re-striping of park roads and parking spaces and the replacement of power lines in the Schoodic area, Anastasia said.

[Amid uncertainty, Acadia National Park preps for new season]

The other 20 percent of entry fee income is shared with other parks for maintenance, Anastasia said.

Much of Acadia is open year-round, but some of Acadia’s seasonal offerings will open for the season on Sunday. Hulls Cove Visitor Center, Echo Lake Beach Road and Thompson Island Picnic Area are due to open.

Acadia’s Carriage Road system will remain closed to all users until it dries out. Park rangers began barricading barricade parking lots associated with the roads on Thursday to prevent their being damaged. Park officials will announce the roads’ opening via the park website and other social media.

Acadia has had an entrance fee since 1987. The current entrance fees of $25 per vehicle and $20 per motorcycle have been in effect since 2015. The park is one of 117 that charges an entrance fee. The remaining 300 sites are free to enter, Anastasia said.

[Acadia friends fear fee increase would drive away visitors]

The most expensive weekly entrance fee charged by the park service, $35 per car, applies to the 17 most-visited parks, including Yellowstone, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Mount Rainier, Rocky Mountain and Grand Teton.

Entrance fees collected by the National Park Service totaled $199.9 million in Fiscal Year 2016. The park service estimates that the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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