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Just as a point of information, Yosemite National Park reopened last week
Friday after being closed due to the Merced River flood of January 1. The
extrance fee to the park is now $20.00 per carload. I'm not sure if there
have been any changes to the hike/bike-in fee. I'm pretty sure that other
national parks will soon follow with increased fees.
I have mixed feelings about backpacking fees, particularly if there is a
"leader/party member" scheme attached. While hunters and fisherfolk have long
paid fees for licenses, I would like to point out that they also take something
out of the environment, i.e., animals or fish. (One could argue that this isn't
true with the "catch and release" method of fishing, but this is a relatively
recent phenomenom...) Backpackers and hikers, on the other hand, don't remove
from the land anything other than pictures, memories and experiences. Well, o.k.
maybe a rock or a pine cone which we know we're not supposed to do but... I
feel that perhaps the greater issue is a mismanagement of government funds. For
years the NFS has been faced with budgets which shrink on a yearly basis. Yet
interest in our national parks continue to increase and the use/abuse on these
places continue to grow. I feel like I'm being "double-dipped" if a part of my
taxes are supposed to go towards maintenance of parks, yet I may be asked to
pay a fee if I chose to explore one.
Finally, I suggest that we all be mindful of the variances in personal budgets.
$20.00 means a great many different things to a great many different people.
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