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Lawmakers oppose fee hike
By LEE JUILLERAT H&N Regional Editor 1/11/07

Rep. Greg Walden has joined Rep. Peter DeFazio in opposing proposals that would double entrance fees at Crater Lake National Park and up fees at Lava Beds National Monument.

“I’m very concerned about the proposed doubling of the fees at Crater Lake,” said Walden, a Republican whose Eastern Oregon Congressional district includes Klamath County and the park. “I think Peter’s right. I just think doubling the fees is going way too far.”

H&N file photo Crater Lake National Park has proposed doubling its entrance fee from $10 to $20 starting January 2008.

DeFazio, a Springfield Democrat, last week sent a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne saying he opposes the proposal, which would double the Crater Lake fee for motor vehicles from $10 to $20 and fees at Lava Beds from $10 to $15.

Money will benefit visitors The National Park Service announced last month it is considering fee increases as allowed by the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

The act allows the Park Service to collect entrance fees and “expanded amenity fees” for services, facilities or equipment and use the money for projects that directly benefit visitors. A 90-day comment period began Jan. 1 and continues through March 31. If approved, the increases would begin in January 2008.

“It seems to me when you’re raising a young family one of the things you can afford to is go to national parks and public lands,” Walden said. “I understand you have to pay for improvements and for service, but I get very concerned about pricing people off of and out of our public lands.”

Walden said he will draft a letter opposing the fee increases. He plans to urge to the Park Service “that they read the comments from local citizens and take them into account.”

Last week, DeFazio also opposed fee increase proposals.

“It doesn’t make sense to increase the park fees while national parks are struggling to attract visitors,” he said in a statement. “I am concerned that the increase in fees at Crater Lake will discourage regular visits by Oregon families.”

While agreeing the Park Service needs additional funding, DeFazio said he fears “raising fees for park visitors will only drive visitors away. Instead, the Department of the Interior should raise the money it needs to improve the park system by collecting the royalties that oil companies owe the United States.”

DeFazio believes Crater Lake and Lava Beds have been able to keep visitation at figures similar to past years by attracting local and regional users.

“Park officials attribute the steady visitation at Crater Lake to regular return visits by Oregonians,” DeFazio said in his letter. “I am concerned that the doubling of fees will deter regular trips by Oregon families and Crater Lake will join the parade of national parks experiencing declining visitations. I have similar concerns with increased fees at Lava Beds National Monument.”

Response from officials

In news releases, Crater Lake Superintendent Chuck Lundy and Lava Beds Superintendent Craig Dorman said increased fees would provide more money for projects and help improve visitor facilities and services at the two parks.

Dorman, who retired last week, said he plans to oppose the fee hike proposal.

Comment on the proposals at Crater Lake and Lava Beds can be made by visiting the parks Web sites at www.nps.gov/crla or www.nps.gov/labe or by sending letters to Superintendent, Crater Lake National Park, P.O. Box 7, Crater Lake, OR 97604, or Superintendent, Lava Beds National Monument, 1 Indian Well Headquarters, Tulelake, CA 96134.

H&N file photo Crater Lake National Park has proposed doubling its entrance fee from $10 to $20 starting January 2008.


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