"This modest increase in fees will allow us to continue to protect, preserve and share Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks with current visitors and future generations," said Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks' Superintendent Woody Smeck. "After carefully considering the impact of a fee increase on visitors and community members, we came to the conclusion that this is the right course of action to improve facilities and services important to visitors."
Entrance fees have supported a wide range of projects that improve the park and visitor experiences, including rehabilitating trails and trailhead signs, developing and installing exhibits in visitor centers, providing ongoing shuttle transportation inside the parks, and improving accessibility. Additional revenue from this fee increase will be spent similarly, plus on other projects, such as rehabilitation of the Crystal Cave Trail and access area, improvement of habitat areas, replacement of outdated outdoor exhibits, and more.
In the fall of 2014, the National Park Service conducted a nationwide review of entrance fees. To solicit public input, Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks launched a civic engagement campaign from November 10 through December 9, 2014. The park distributed a news release about potential fee increases on November 10 and posted key information on two websites, on social media, and conducted a public webinar. A total of 60 public comments were received through the official Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website (https://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki), one by email and one by mail. Posts about this topic on Facebook reached 40,032 people with 113 shares, and 2,088 likes. Seventy percent of those who made comments were supportive of the fee increases.
While the majority of comments supported an increase, a few people had concerns:
-- The largest concern voiced by commenters was about outpricing underserved populations. To address this concern, several additional Fee-Free Days will be available at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, in addition to nationwide Fee-Free Days in 2016: April 23- Junior Ranger Day; June 4- National Trails Day; June 18- Buffalo Soldiers Special Event, and December 11- the Annual Nation's Christmas Tree celebration. As of today, the nation-wide Fee-Free Days have not been announced for 2016.
---Based upon comments from a handful of motorcyclists, park management decided to phase in the increase in pricing for motorcycle users between 2016 and 2017.
About the National Park Service: More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America's 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Visit us at www.nps.gov, on Facebook www.facebook.com/nationalparkservice, Twitter www.twitter.com/natlparkservice, and YouTube www.youtube.com/nationalparkservice.