Times are tough all across the country. Everyone is cutting back, including families, companies, and the government. There just isn’t enough money to fund everything. The National Park Service isn’t immune to the cutback – they’ll be receiving around $100 million less than they did in previous years.
From the Daily Hiker:
The NPS functions on a minute fraction of the overall budget: one-thirteenth of one-percent of the country’s $3.55 trillion budget for the year 2010. What does the funding to to help? It keeps historical monuments like Gettysburg and Old Faithful open to the public, provide educational programs in parks across the country, and keep all the parks running day in and day out. Currently, the NPS has an annual budget of $2.75 billion, and will have a budget a little over $100 million less next year. While the cuts won’t affect the main operations of the NPS, they will affect three areas: new construction (for improving and adding park facilities), and both the Historic Preservation Fund and Land and Water Conservation Fund.
To make up for the decrease in the budget, do you think the NPS should increase entrance fees or start collecting fees at all parks? The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which I believe is the most visited National Park in the country, is free to enter all year long. NPS.com says 8-10 million people visit the park each year – if they were to charge $5 per car they could come up with around $25 million in extra revenue (assuming 2 people per car).
I’m not advocating we raise fees and start collecting fees at all parks – in fact, I wish all National Parks were free to enter. I’m just trying to think of ways to make up for the budget decrease so we can properly maintain/improve our parks.