Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore (National Lakeshore) is requesting public comment as the park considers an increase to entrance and camping fees beginning in January 2016. The current entrance fees and first-come, first-served camping fees have been in place since 2004 with only a slight increase in fees for reservable campsites which occurred in 2006. The National Lakeshore is one of only 131 of the 401 National Park Service (NPS) sites that charge entrance fees and were recently authorized by NPS Director Jon Jarvis to consider fee increases based upon a new fee structure.
“The idea of increasing fees in the National Lakeshore is always troubling and is only done with a great deal of consideration, especially when we are trying to make the park as accessible as possible to all Americans,” said Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore Superintendent Dusty Shultz. “But the fact of the matter is that we now depend on the fees to provide basic services that people expect. We are committed to keeping the park affordable, but we also want to be able to provide visitors with the best possible experience. We feel that the proposed fee changes are still an incredible value when considering the other family and recreation opportunities in the local area. Plus, 80% of those funds stay right here at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore to benefit our visitors.”
Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreation Annual, Senior, Access or Military Passes. These passes may be obtained at the park as well as at other federal fee areas. The cost of these passes will not increase under this proposal.
The proposed fee schedule is as follows:
The proposed entrance fee rates are based on a national fee rate schedule that was due to be implemented back in 2009, but was postponed by the NPS due to the national economic downturn that occurred at about the same time. The camping fees are derived through comparability reviews conducted by the National Lakeshore looking at other camping facilities/opportunities in the local area. The proposed fee schedule has been simplified, making it easier to understand. In addition, the cost for hot showers at Platte River Campground has been combined into the nightly camping fee.
The National Lakeshore is seeking feedback about the proposed fee schedule. Please provide your comments online at parkplanning.nps.gov/sleepingbearfees. Comments may also be mailed to the National Lakeshore (Superintendent, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 9922 Front Street, Empire, MI 49630). The National Lakeshore requests that you provide your comments by December 8, 2014.
The Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) is the legislation under which the National Lakeshore currently collects entrance and camping fees. This law allows parks to retain approximately 80% of the fees collected for use on projects that directly benefit visitors. The remaining 20% is distributed throughout the National Park System. Since the beginning of FLREA in 2004, and its predecessor Fee Demonstration Program authorized in 1996, the park has collected and the visitors and park resources have benefitted from this revenue. The additional revenue received from the proposed fee increase in 2016 will be used to further enhance visitor services, including repair and maintenance of park facilities, restoration and rehabilitation of historic buildings and landscapes, additional park interpretive programs and increased protection of the outstanding natural and cultural resources within the National Lakeshore.
Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2013, a National Park Service report showed that 1,531,560 visitors to the National Lakeshore spent $152 million in communities near the park. That spending supported 2,818 jobs in the local area.
The National Lakeshore looks forward to receiving your comments concerning the proposed fee increase. For more information, please contact Merrith Baughman, Chief of Interpretation and Visitor Services, at 231-326-4725.
Last updated: April 10, 2015