WASHINGTON (News4Utah) – Mark your calendars! The National Park Service announced its entrance fee-free days for 2018. The agency says there will be four entrance-free days for 2018.
- January 15 – Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
- April 21 – First Day of National Park Week
- September 22 – National Public Lands Day
- November 11 – Veterans Day
That number is down sharply from previous years, however, in an effort by the park service to address an $11 billion maintenance backlog, spokeswoman Kathy Kupper said.
Maintenance is needed for “projects like infrastructure or things that directly benefit the visitor — overlooks, campgrounds, roads, bridges — all the way down to the programs that are done for the visitors,” Kupper said.
This year there were 10 free days and last year there were 16, to coincide with the park service’s 100th anniversary.
The public lands conservation and advocacy organization released the following statement from Advocacy Director Jesse Prentice-Dunn:
“Not everyone can book a helicopter or charter a boat when they want to visit our national parks. America’s parks must remain affordable for working families—Secretary Zinke seems determined to turn them into a playground for the rich. Instead of pushing massive increases to entrance fees and cutting fee-free days, Ryan Zinke should ensure all Americans have access to our parks and public lands.”
In November, the National Park Service proposed increasing entrance fees a highly-visited parks during peak visitor seasons. The plan, which is not final, could increase national park revenue by $70 million a year, the park service said.
According to the National Park Service, 331 million people visited national parks spending $18.4 billion which had $35 billion impact on the U.S. economy.
CNN contributed to this report.