Everglades National Park Reinitiates Public Comment Period on Proposed Fee Changes
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: JULY 26, 2018
General Park Information: 305-242-7700
Everglades Media Queries: Denese Canedo, 305-242
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Everglades National Park is reinitiating civic engagement on proposed fee changes, which was put on hold following Hurricane Irma. In addition to fee changes that were directed by the National Park Service (NPS) to go into effect on January 1, 2019, the Park is proposing additional changes.
Proposed changes being considered to go into effect in January 2019 include: initiation of a vessel entrance fee (equal to what vehicles pay for land access), introduction of entrance fees at Gulf Coast district, and elimination of marina launch fees. The Park is also proposing additional increases to entrance fees effective January 1, 2020, at which time the Park expects to have overnight lodging and new restaurant available.
The Park has decided not to assess a fee for the Boater Education Program, although completion of the program will remain mandatory for persons operating motorized vessels in Park waters, once the program is in place. This decision was taken, in part, out of consideration of the introduction of the vessel entrance fee. The Park hopes to make the Boater Education Program available by January 2019.
“We look forward to hearing the public’s thoughts on these proposals,” said Everglades National Park Superintendent Pedro Ramos. “Entrance fees are incredibly important to help provide a quality experience for all visitors, and to address the maintenance backlog in our Park.”
In Everglades National Park, 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the Park and are devoted to spending that supports the visitor. The Park shares the other 20 percent of entrance fee income with national parks that do not collect entrance fees such as Biscayne National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve for their projects.
Some examples of projects funded in the last five years from entrance fees at Everglades National Park:
- Rehabilitate Back Country Camping Facilities;
- Installation of new shower houses in Long Pine Key Campground;
- Installation of new entrance signs at Pine Island, Shark Valley, and Gulf Coast;
- Replacement of the Anhinga Boardwalk at Royal Palm;
- Replacement of the Bobcat Boardwalk at Shark Valley.
Some examples of projects planned for the next five years, using entrance fees:
- Repaving of the main entrance road;
- Replace Marine Route Markers in the Florida Bay District;
- Replace Marine Route Markers in the Gulf Coast District;
- Replace Marine Route Markers in the Flamingo District;
- Rehabilitation of the Gumbo Limbo Trail;
- Rehabilitation of the Long Pine Key campground amphitheater;
- Rehabilitation of the sewage lift stations in the Flamingo District.
National parks have experienced record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. Throughout the country, the combination of an aging infrastructure and increased visitation has put a strain on park roads, bridges, campgrounds, waterlines, bathrooms, and other visitor services and led to a $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog nationwide.
Everglades National Park has had an entrance fee since 1966. The current rate of $8 per person, $25 per vehicle or $20 per motorcycle has been in effect since 2015. The annual entrance fee is currently $40. The Park is one of 117 National Park Service sites that charge an entrance fee; the other 300 national parks are free to enter.
The Park invites public comments on the proposed changes in writing by August 31, 2018 through any of the three means below:
By mail, to:
Attn: Public Comments – Fees
40001 State Road 9336
Homestead, Florida 33034-8733
By email, to:
(Include in Subject Line: **Public Comments – Fees**
By online comments submitted at: https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=82388
More information, including the new fee schedule mandated for 2019, along with other proposed fee changes, is available in the enclosed FAQ.