Price increase imminent for senior passes to national parks

Park ranger Zac O'Neal collects park fees from visitors on his first day back to work at the entrance to Zion National Park

It reads, "People at this age are less likely to have the same financial resources as they did when younger and the lifetime park pass at the cost of $10 is a good way for the government to show appreciation for its aging population!"

Military retirees and other seniors over age 62 will soon have to pay more - a lot more - for lifetime passes to U.S. National Parks.

Congress decided in December 2016 to raise the price of the America the Beautiful - National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Senior Pass from $10 to $80, which will take effect August 28 of this year.

Veterans who have been ruled permanently disabled can receive a free lifetime disability pass, known as the Access Pass, by submitting Department of Veterans Affairs documentation to the National Park Service. She said the online agency that sells them usually dispensed 30,000 each year with a week-long turnaround.

She said she didn't think the price increase would be a deterrent for visitors.

After the price hike was announced, the $10 passes began selling at a record rate, said National Park Service spokeswoman Kathy Kupper. The day after the news of the price increase, they sold 23 passes.

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About 130 parks increased their entrance fees in 2015, while more increased camping and other amenity and rental fees.

The co-presidents of the Friends of Whiskeytown Lake ask people to put the price increase in perspective.

The fee increase was approved by Congress past year as a way to give the National Parks Service additional revenue to make enhancements and repairs.

Milestone understands the frustration, but tells people to get a pass before August 28 and they won't have any issues.

Many national park sites remain free, but for those that charge for entry, the pass will continue to admit the senior holding the pass, as well as any traveling companions.

While the McNary refuge is free to the public, McInturff said there are several facilities within the area that charge, at which the senior passes would be valid.

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