Governor Jay Inslee sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke expressing his concerns with the proposed fee increase to access the Olympic National Park and Mount Rainier.
In the letter, he states;
“As Governor of a state with one of the largest state park systems in the country, I understand the ongoing pressure to ensure parks are adequately resourced while maintaining their mission and providing the best possible visitor experience.”
He says that “Reasonable cost recovery needs to be balanced with reasonable budget support”, but adds that the proposed increase would bring a negative impact to the park as a whole.
Inslee highlights counties surrounding the parks, saying that they are still recovering from the recession. He notes Jefferson and Clallam counties, but not Grays Harbor which touches the southern end of the park boundaries.
He says that increasing the per-vehicle cost from $25 to $70 would harm the counties and “put a day at the national park out of reach for many lower- and middle-income families”.
Inslee cites cuts of nearly $300 million from the national budget, saying that if these go into place, it would outweigh the anticipated new revenue from the increased parks.
He asks Zinke and the federal government “to do its part by rescinding this exorbitant fee increase, changing course from its drastic proposed funding cuts, and instead focusing on properly investing in our national parks system.”