Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke unveiled a baffling plan to raise the price of admission into some of America’s most coveted national parks in October of 2017. The general public was largely upset with the decision to make the parks into luxury destinations, but formal pushback on the decision has only recently begun as Zinke began his testimony before the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
According to Zinke, he proposed raising entrance fees because too many visitors don’t have to pay to enter. These free-loading “visitors” aren’t any of Team Trump’s normal scapegoats, though; apparently, veterans and the disabled are the dastardly culprits.
“When you give discounted or free passes to elderly, fourth graders, veterans, disabled, and you do it by the carload, there’s not a whole lot of people who actually pay at our front door,” Zinke lamented. “So, we’re looking at ways to make sure we have more revenue in the front door of our parks themselves.”
The Park Service currently charges fees between $25 and $30 per vehicle at the country’s favorite national parks like the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Zion.
Zinke’s reverse-Robin Hood plan would more than double the cost per vehicle at a whopping $70 a piece. If that isn’t enough to keep those greedy veterans off of public land, Zinke’s alternative would force park visitors to pay individually for admission.
“Basically, one person with a pass, everyone in that car comes in free,” Zinke sneered. “Now, whether or not that’s correct, we’re looking at it.”
Presently, active military members and disabled veterans can receive a free annual pass. Zinke assured the Senate committee that he would not impose new fees on them. Seniors, however, will see a huge increase from $10 to $80 for annual passes, the present cost for non-seniors. Zinke defended this particular change as the “greatest bargain in America,” which only proves how utterly out-of-sync Trump’s billionaire buddies are with everyday Americans.
Raising the park fees will not be enough to address the $11.7 billion National Parks maintenance backlog, which Zinke himself has admitted. The infrastructures inside the park need renovation and restoration.
“Some of our principal parks are loved to death,” Zinke whined on Tuesday.
For what it’s worth, these decisions have received bi-partisan opposition since Zinke’s announcement last year. The blithering billionaire has also sullied his relationship with the National Park Service, which led to nine of the twelve advisory board members tendering their resignations over their treatment at Zinke’s hands.