2017-12-21 / Outdoors

Park fee hikes OK’d

Word got to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore officials last week that, indeed, proposed user fee hikes of up to 50 percent have been approved by the National Park Service.

A process to systematically increase fees at national parks across the country started about three years ago. The price for an annual vehicle pass to the Lakeshore increased from $20 to $30 on Jan. 1, 2016. It will go to $40 on Jan. 1, 2018 — doubling over two years.

Deputy superintendent Tom Ulrich said the fees were approved with just enough time to be implemented.

“I think we have time. We have to change signs, and things like that. But the price is not printed on the pass. We have to change our website and signs, and the cash registers have to be reprogrammed,” he said.

A press release issued by the Lakeshore stated that opinions expressed this summer during a public comment period on the proposal ran about 2-to-1 in favor of the increases.

The Enterprise opposed the fee hikes in an editorial run in its July 6 edition.

The release also stated that seven local businesses and residents suggested establishing a one-day pass to the Lakeshore, which now only offers annual and weekly passes. The NPS turned down the request, however, saying that only Rocky Mountain National Park now offers a one-day pass and that most visitors to the Lakeshore stay longer.

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