Ryan Zinke: Too Many Americans Are Enjoying National Parks For Free

Screengrab/Washington Post/YouTube

Who gets into national parks for free? Veterans, disabled Americans, senior citizens, and children.

Too many Americans are able to access the country's national parks for free, says Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, and this must end if the U.S. wishes to address the parks' aging and otherwise declining infrastructure.

Who gets into national parks for free? Veterans, disabled Americans, senior citizens, and children.

"When you give discounted or free passes to elderly, fourth graders, veterans, disabled, and you do it by the carload, there's not a whole lot of people who actually pay at our front door," Zinke said. "So, we're looking at ways to make sure we have more revenue in the front door of our parks themselves."

Zinke assured the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday that he would not impose new fees on veterans, but he did propose raising vehicle fees from at some of the busier national parks, such as Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Yosemite and Zion, which currently charge between $20 and $30 per car.

Zinke’s proposal would raise that fee to $70 per car. He is also looking at possibly charging each individual an entrance fee rather than paying per car.

"Basically, one person with a pass, everyone in that car comes in free," Zinke said. "Now, whether or not that's correct, we're looking at it."

The Hill reports that national parks currently face an $11.7 billion maintenance backlog.

Zinke’s proposal, unveiled in October, would raise the rates during the five-month peak season at 17 national parks.

A December poll found that nearly 68 percent of Americans were less likely to visit a national park if the fees increased.

Well, Betty, you should have saved your money. If you had, you’d be able to see some of these parks instead of expecting a handout. Isn’t that the conservative belief? You were probably popping out kids and buying beer with your Welfare handout.

Hey , let’s start by letting our elected officials enjoy the same social security and Medicare retirement as the people they serve instead of the lifelong perks they get .... then let’s cut the corporate tax breaks and billionaire tax breaks that have taken huge chunks out of potential tax revenues (and they still screw us) then, we can go from there. I’d rather fund free parks than corporate welfare

I’m in my 70s and I don’t disagree with you. We have a free pass, but I always make up for the admission by dropping money into the collection box at the visitor center. The national parks always need money. Especially with a Republican administration. But we also don’t have a $200,000, 7mpg gas guzzler. We have a $10,000 pop up trailer with no bathroom and we tow it behind a 4-cylinder Subaru Outback. We aren’t wealthy, but we’re comfortable and can afford the small cost of entry into our NPs. The seniors who can’t afford to pay their way usually can’t afford to travel anyway, IMHO, but I could be wrong there. Disabled vets should get in for free. That’s a no-brainer.

hate much?

I think Betty is just plain wrong. I am 75 and love diversity. The only reason (besides bigotry) that people do not like unamericans is their uneasiness with people that are not Americans. Their anxiety overcomes their common sense and their curosity they had as child to explore the unknown and learn. I feel sorry that our melting pot has been frozen and shattered for many selfish reasons.