Entrance Fees and National Park Attendance

The other day a colleague, Owen Hoffman, shared his thoughts on how entrance fees might be affecting visitation at national parks.
It was a well-written piece that examined three Eastern park units -- Shenandoah, the Blue Ridge Parkway, and Great Smoky Mountains -- and Owen's personal experiences at each. In the article he noted the relative scant visitation at Shenandoah, which just happens to be the only one of the three that charges an entrance fee.
Well, a little deeper research shows an even stronger correlation between entrance fees and dampened visitation. If you compare visitation between 1997 and 2006, Great Smokies traffic was down 6.8 percent, Blue Ridge Parkway was up 3.1 percent, Shenandoah was DOWN 32.2 percent.
Anyone see a pattern?
Others are focusing more on exposing this pattern.
Check out this story in the San Jose Mercury News. Under the headline, "National Park Entry Fees Heading for Steep Hike," Paul Rogers writes that, The Bush administration is quietly moving forward with plans to hike entrance fees at 135 national parks - from Yosemite to the Everglades - in the most sweeping proposed fee increase in the history of the 91-year-old National Park Service.
And that's just the lead. Down in the body of the story Mr. Rogers notes that, In the decade before the first fee increase at Yosemite, attendance rose from 2.98 million in 1986 to 4.19 million in 1996 - a 41 percent increase. After the higher fee went into effect, attendance fell 20 percent to 3.36 million in 2006. Similarly, a 2001 report by the U.S. Department of Interior found that at 100 parks where fees were increased in 1997, attendance fell 1.5 percent. At the parks where fees weren't increased, attendance rose 11.3 percent.
How many more years of declines are necessary before Park Service officials and those members of Congress who question whether the parks are recreationally relevant in the 21st century make the connection?

Comments

Hey Kurt-- Would it be appropriate now to change the way we describe this phenomenon from "fee creep" to "fee surge"? That way we can tie it more closely to the kind of ineffective management that seems so common these days.
Wait a second, isn't that what all you greenies want...less visitation? Aren't we "loving the parks to death?" Sheesh...some of you flip-flop more than Jon Carry. Of course, it was "Global Cooling" and "Acid Rain" that had ya'll sc-c-ared in the 70s....
Jon Carry?
Jon Carry...LOL...the one with the Purple Hearts for a few scratches!!
Hey! Yellowstone Junkie, where was Bush during the Nam days? Hiding is Papa's arm pits...with a bottle of booze in his arms.
You are filled with way too much hate, Snowbird...it's gonna be funny to see who y'all hate next after the president returns to his beautiful ranch in Texas (which I am sure HE can't wait to do). Actually President Bush was flying the F-102 Delta Dagger with the Texas Air National Guard in a homeland defense interceptor role: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:GW-Bush-in-uniform.jpg From: http://www.nationalreview.com/flashback/york200408261025.asp: "During that period Bush's superiors gave him consistently high ratings as a pilot. "Lt. Bush is an exceptional fighter interceptor pilot and officer," wrote one in a 1972 evaluation. Another evaluation, in 1971, called Bush "an exceptionally fine young officer and pilot" who "continually flies intercept missions with the unit to increase his proficiency even further." And a third rating, in 1970, said Bush "clearly stands out as a top notch fighter interceptor pilot" and was also "a natural leader whom his contemporaries look to for leadership." All that flying involved quite a bit of work. "Being a pilot is more than just a monthly appearance," says Bob Harmon, a former Guard pilot who was a member of Bush's group in 1971 and 1972. "You cannot maintain your currency by doing just one drill a month. He was flying once or twice a week during that time, from May of 1971 until May of 1972." While the work was certainly not as dangerous as fighting in the jungles of Vietnam, it wasn't exactly safe, either. Harmon remembers a half-dozen Texas Air National Guard fliers who died in accidents over the years, in cluding one during the time Bush was flying. "This was not an endeavor without risk," Harmon notes."
Not hate Yellowstone Junkie, but your blog is purely right wing political crap. Bush's flying records were lost for years as well as him being AWOL...obscured in some hidden airbase far from Nam...known fact! Don't swift boat or sugar coat this man's unmeritorious record.
LOL...guess what? He's STILL our President! So ya just gotta get over it...you are so pathetic, Birdie....
Hey! Yellowstone Jack, you must be proud of this President's recent job approval ratings, something like 24%. Stick with the issues Yellowstone that Kurt has set up for us, not this right wing political hate spreel. Have a good day!
No hate here...sounds more like LEFT wing BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) comin' from your end.... In case ya haven't noticed...this President doesn't govern by polls...he couldn't care less what his "approval rating" is...he knows that tough decisions have to be made. Most of our population has been so "dumbed down" that they really don't know what is going on anyway, except what the liberal mainstream media feeds 'em.