MagazineFebruary 2009Do you support user fees for public lands?

Do you support user fees for public lands?

47% say yes

Let’s face it: most users do not plan to volunteer, have never volunteered, or volunteer only once or twice, and then believe they have fulfilled their duty to maintain the park. Without the entrance fees, facilities lose the ability to meet the financial needs of the area, and the slim participation among volunteers necessitates purchasing equipment and staff to manage the land. You have to maintain the tools used to cut trails and staff the park with rangers. The free parks I visit are supported by only a few volunteers. Entrance fees help everyone take part in sustaining the life of the land.
—Aaron Basmajian, Richmond, Va.


Facing a massive federal deficit, the government is cutting funding even further for our national and state parks and forests. Already the forests and parks do not get enough money to pay the rangers and maintain the trails. I’ll gladly pay a few bucks to help the upkeep of these parks and forests. Heck, we pay $10 just to see a lousy movie at the theatre.
Larry Angrimson, Woodbridge, Va.


I support user fees as long as 100 percent of the money is kept at the park where it is collected, instead of going into a national fund to be doled back out. I have recently visited a national park where collections were done based on vehicle instead of occupant, and it was free to enter on foot or on your bike. Many of these same parks offer yearly passes for locals at significantly discounted rates. We can only expect so much from our government. While we can vote for the environment and support organizations and companies that are stewards of the environment, I don’t have a problem with ponying up for a user fee as long as it is properly managed.
Barry Lucas, Knoxville, Tenn.

I don’t mind paying a fee—as long as it is used to keep the park and its trails in good shape. I don’t trust the government to support the parks. All they do is help their own interests, and they never give a single dollar to anything we really need.
Chris Hinton, Greenville, S.C.




The current administration in Washington has cut the funding so much that it has choked the national forests and parks into raising fees even higher. The people who need it most can’t afford to access it. —Micah Wheat, Black Mountain, N.C.

I am not in favor of fees for the use of public land. If we really want people to enjoy them, we should fully fund them using existing tax dollars. Plus, the cost of collecting user fees often exceeds 50 percent of the fees collected. —Mark Wenger, Williamsburg, Va.


I don’t agree with fees. I think our government should use tax dollars for employee salaries and maintenance instead of so much foreign aid. This would allow those less fortunate in the U.S. to use parks, trails, and campsites without a fee.
—Tracy, Staunton, Va.

I don’t think anyone should have to pay a fee to enjoy the trails, rivers, and views on our publicly owned lands. The parks belong to everyone; we all pay for them with our taxes. I do think there should be a fee for driving your car into the park. Driving a car is not necessary to enjoy the park, but it does damage the outdoor experience through air and noise pollution. The money generated could be used to maintain the roads and support park public transportation. If someone chooses to walk, bike, or take a park bus to the trailhead, they would have free access.
—Jon Livengood, Knoxville, Tenn.

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