National Park Service proposes $70 entrance fee for 17 popular parks



National Park Service proposes $70 entrance fee for 17 popular parks

Madison Park, CNN • Published 25th October 2017
(CNN) — The National Park Service proposes more than doubling the entrance fees at 17 popular national parks, including Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Yellowstone, to help pay for infrastructure improvements.
Under the agency’s proposal, the entrance fee for a private vehicle would jump to $70 during peak season, from its current rate of $25 to $30.
The cost for a motorcycle entering the park could increase to $50, from the current fee of $15 to $25. The cost for people entering the park on foot or on bike could go to $30, up from the current rate of $10 to $15.
The cost of the annual pass, which permits entrance into all federal lands and parks, would remain at $80.
The proposal would affect the following 17 national parks during the 2018 peak season:
  • Arches
  • Bryce Canyon
  • Canyonlands
  • Denali
  • Glacier
  • Grand Canyon
  • Grand Teton
  • Olympic
  • Sequoia & Kings Canyon
  • Yellowstone
  • Yosemite
  • Zion
  • Acadia
  • Mount Rainier
  • Rocky Mountain
  • Shenandoah
  • Joshua Tree
Peak pricing would affect each park’s busiest five months for visitors.
The National Park Service said the increase would help pay for badly needed improvements, including to roads, bridges, campgrounds, water-line’s, bathrooms and other visitor services at the parks. The fee hikes could also boost national park revenue by $70 million per year, it said.
“The infrastructure of our national parks is aging and in need of renovation and restoration,” Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a statement.
Of the 417 national park sites, 118 charge an entrance fee.
The National Park service has opened the proposal to public comments for 30 days at its website.
The proposal was blasted by the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonpartisan advocacy group.
“We should not increase fees to such a degree as to make these places — protected for all Americans to experience — unaffordable for some families to visit,” the group’s president and CEO Theresa Pierno said in a statement. “The solution to our parks’ repair needs cannot and should not be largely shouldered by its visitors.”
The South Kaibab Trail drops to the Colorado River in the bottom of the Grand Canyon in just under seven miles. Numerous day hike options turn around at phenomenal viewpoints if you don’t want to commit to an overnight trip to the bottom of the canyon.
Ben Adkison
“The administration just proposed a major cut to the National Park Service budget even as parks struggle with billions of dollars in needed repairs,” Pierno said. “If the administration wants to support national parks, it needs to walk the walk and work with Congress to address the maintenance backlog.”
On the National Park Service’s Facebook page, some commented that the proposal was reasonable since it was going to improve and maintain the parks. Others lamented that it would price working class people out of making trips that they had saved up for.
Entrance fees at several national parks, including Mount Rainer, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, went up in 2015 to their current price.
Those fee increases didn’t seem to deter visitors. In 2016, National Park Services received a record-breaking 331 million visits, which marked a 7.7% increase over 2015. It was the park service’s third consecutive all-time attendance record.
Most popular National Parks in 2016 (59 total)
Great Smoky Mountains National Park — 11,312,786 million visitors
Grand Canyon National Park — 5,969,811
Yosemite National Park — 5,028,868
Rocky Mountain National Park — 4,517,585
Zion National Park — 4,295,127
Yellowstone National Park — 4,257,177
Olympic National Park — 3,390,221
Acadia National Park — 3,303,393
Grand Teton National Park — 3,270,076
Glacier National Park — 2,946,681

A Mountain Lion Kitten Is Found, Leading To Excitement And Concern


A Mountain Lion Kitten Is Found, Leading To Excitement And Concern

This is mountain lion kitten known as P-54 found in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It is the only known kitten from P-23’s third litter, according to the National Park Service.

Courtesy of the National Park Service

Admit it. You only clicked on this story because of the photo of that insanely cute mountain lion kitten. You just wanted to gaze into her (yes, it’s a her) milky blue eyes.

That’s fair.

But there’s more to the story of this kitten. Researchers have named her P-54. She’s no more than a few months old. And – this is the sad part – it’s likely that she’s the product of inbreeding.

The kitten was born amidst the urban sprawl of Southern California in Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, the largest urban national park in the country. The recreation area is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, agricultural fields and greater Los Angeles.

“Think of it like an island,” says Jeff Sikich, a biologist for the National Park Service, who’s been tracking the park’s mountain lions in its steep chaparral-covered canyons for more than a decade. “[The mountain lions] are pretty much hemmed in by freeways and development on all sides.”

As a result, few cats – or other wildlife, for that matter – are able to come and go, so adult mountain lions resort to inbreeding. Researchers know that the kitten’s mother is P-23. And they suspect the father is P-23’s half-brother, P-30. They’re waiting for genetic testing to confirm their suspicions.

Sikich says it’s unlikely that P-30 or other mountain lions know they’re inbreeding. Male mountain lions don’t stick around to raise their kids. But the results of inbreeding could be devastating to the population’s future.

Limited genetic diversity can lead to mutations and abnormalities. Sikich points to the Florida panther, a population that almost went extinct from inbreeding. Researchers started to find genetic defects in the animals – holes in the heart, kinked tails and low sperm counts – before wildlife managers introduced outside panthers into the population to mix things up.

The same thing could start to happen in the Santa Monica Mountains. Sikich says they’ve only seen one outside mountain lion come into the park in the last 12 years. Others have been turned away by the freeways or killed by passing cars.

“If that was to stay the same into the future, we could get to that Florida panther level in roughly 35 years,” he says. “And then once we hit those levels, we can see pretty much 99 percent extinction within roughly 15 years.”

P-54 is a healthy kitten, Sikich says. And she’ll have a better chance at long-term survival than she would if she was a boy. Most male mountain lions are killed by the park’s dominant cats when they get old enough to leave their mother. Without a way to disperse outside of the mountains, they’re put in competition with the older males.

And it’s not all bad. Sikich and other researchers are encouraged and excited that the kitten was born.

“They are successfully reproducing and raising their young, which is a good thing,” Sikich says.

That’s impressive, he says, when you consider they’re large carnivores living just outside the second-largest urban area in the U.S. And the lessons they’re learning by studying the animals and how they survive in an urban and fragmented habitat could be used in other parts of the country. The National Wildlife Federation says that habitat loss, like that caused by fragmentation, is the biggest threat to wildlife in the U.S.

Park officials and wildlife advocates are hoping to address the fragmentation by building a wildlife overpass, which would connect the Santa Monica Mountains with other wilderness in Southern California. The proposed overpass would bridge over Route 101, a busy highway.

There are challenges to getting the project done, but Sikich is optimistic that the overpass will be built, giving future mountain lion kittens a better chance at long-term success.

Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii


Massive lava stream exploding into ocean in Hawaii