National park lands are not free. Protecting our natural and cultural heritage and providing a safe, enjoyable, and educational place to visit requires substantial funding.
Although your taxes fund much of the cost of operating parks like Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, they do not cover all of the costs. As expenses to maintain and staff the parks rise each year, government funding may struggle to keep up.
Your Dollars At Work
Recreation User Fees
Under an experimental initiative begun in 1996, the National Park Service collected over $867 million in recreation fees. With this trial program - the Recreational Fee Demonstration Program - Congress authorized four federal land management agencies (National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service) to charge fees to visitors. Originally authorized for three years, the program was extended four times but expired on September 30, 2004. With its Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), Congress made the program permanent.
Eighty percent or more of the money remains in the collecting park. The Director of the National Park Service distributes the remaining 20 percent of the fees collected to projects throughout the NPS.
Recreation fees continue to provide a vital source of revenue for improving facilities and services for visitors at national parks, national forests, wildlife refuges, and other public lands throughout the nation.
Where Does Your Money Go?
Your backcountry, campground, and special use fees help Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore complete important projects that directly benefit park visitors.
In the past ten years, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has used its 80 percent share of user fees to complete fee demonstration projects worth almost $800,000. Of this amount, $426,000 has been spent on deferred maintenance projects which would not have been accomplished without these special fee demonstration funds. Some of these projects include $81,000 to rehabilitate trails within the lakeshore, $60,000 for restoration activities at the Au Sable Light Station, $40,000 for the removal of exotic plants in the Grand Sable Dunes, and $9,000 to repair the water well at the Log Slide day use area.
In addition, Pictured Rocks has successfully competed with other parks in the NPS to complete $553,000 of 20 percent projects, $349,500 of them deferred maintenance. This includes $130,000 to relocate and upgrade the Log Slide day use area, $125,000 to rehabilitate exhibits at the Interagency Visitor Center in partnership with the USDA Forest Service, $118,000 for trail rehabilitation on both the Lakeshore Trail and others, and $85,000 to restore the Single Keeper’s Dwelling at the Au Sable Light Station.
Last updated: January 9, 2018