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National Park Service reduces number of fee-free days in 2018

Posted at 5:15 PM, Dec 12, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-15 08:33:30-05

The National Park Service will waive entrance fees at national parks across the country for four days in 2018.

That is six days fewer than the number of fee-free days offered in 2017 and 12 days fewer than 2016, the year NPS celebrated its 100th anniversary.

Kathy Kupper, a spokesperson for National Park Service, said in an email to ABC15 that the National Park Service was returning to fewer fee-free days because the Centennial had passed and "the nation is recovering from the recession."

Between 2003 and 2008, NPS had two fee-free days, Kupper said. In 2009, the years following the recession, that number was increased to "encourage visitation by citizens with financial constraints."

In 2016, the number was increased to 16 days to coincide with NPS' Centennial.

Kupper said fewer fee-free days would also bring in more money to improve facilities, take care of deferred maintenance issues and better the parks.

In October, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the National Park Service proposed to increase daily entrance fees during peak months at 17 national parks, including Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona, and Arches and Bryce national parks in Utah, to raise money to fix roads, bathrooms and aging infrastructure.

The proposal is in the public-comment phase which runs through Dec. 22. Zinke said the proposal would raise an additional $70 million.

More than 331 million people visited national parks last year and spent more than $18.4 billion, according to the National Park Service.

The fee-free days for 2018 are:

  • Jan. 15 - Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Apr. 21 - First day of National Park Week
  • Sept. 22 - National Public Lands Day
  • Nov. 11 - Veterans Day