June 17, 2016
Contact: Vickie Carson
MAMMOTH CAVE, Ky., June 17, 2016 – Acting Mammoth Cave National Park Superintendent Tracy Stakely announced today that the Park is seeking public comment on a change in fees, which would take effect January 1, 2017. The authority to charge recreational fees at national parks stems from the 2004 Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.
"We would like to hear what the public thinks about our proposal to increase or charge new fees," said Stakely. "The changes are all related to educational tours, many of which the park has previously provided at no charge."
The proposed changes in the park's fee structure include:
Park staff are required to compare Mammoth Cave's fees with those charged at other government facilities and privately operated businesses. For example, Lowell National Historical Park (MA) charges $7.50/student;Fire Island National Seashore (NY) charges $5/student;and local environmental education providers charge $6-$7.50. The cost of adult education experiences at other national parks is similar to the park's proposed fee for higher education.
- Increase an existing fee: The educational cave tour rate would increase from $5 to $6 per student/chaperone. This fee has not changed since it was implemented in 2004.
- New fee: The Environmental Education program has traditionally been free to participating schools. The proposed fee will initiate the $6 per student fee for all in-park Environmental Education programs.
- New fee: Park staff have traditionally presented customized programs requested by higher education groups free of charge. The proposed fee will initiate a new fee of $15/student for programs lasting up to two hours, and $25/student for programs lasting two to four hours.
"I spoke personally with several local teachers," said Jennifer Shackelford, who coordinates the park's environmental education program. "Most agreed this was a reasonable fee for the learning experience students receive with rangers in the park."
"The recreation fee program has funded millions of dollars in initiatives and projects at Mammoth Cave," added Stakely. "Fees have funded renovations to the concessions facilities, construction of Big Hollow Trail and Maple Springs Trailhead, and backcountry trail repairs. Fees also cover the cost of tour guide salaries and mitigate against the spread of White-Nose Syndrome in bats."
Written comments may be submitted June 17 through July 18, 2016, through the National Park Service (NPS) planning website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/MACA. Written comments may also be submitted by mail to: Superintendent, Mammoth Cave National Park, P.O. Box 7, Mammoth Cave, KY 42259.
It is the practice of the NPS to make all comments, including names and addresses of respondents who provide that information, available for public review. Individuals may request that the NPS withhold their name and/or address from public disclosure. Commentators must state this prominently at the beginning of their comment and check the box "keep my contact information private." NPS will honor such requests to the extent allowable by law, but may still be required to disclose a commentator's name and address pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. All submissions from organizations, businesses, and from individuals identifying themselves as representatives or officials of organizations or businesses will be made available for public inspection in their entirety.