Some criticize proposed Yellowstone fees

AP News
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Posted: Dec 07, 2014 3:39 PM

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — A proposal to double the cost to enter Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks in northwest Wyoming is drawing resistance.

The town of Jackson, fishing guides and wildlife safari companies are among those speaking out against a plan that calls for increasing entrance fees for the two neighboring parks.

Under the National Park Service plan, a 7-day pass good for both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks would increase from $25 to $50. An annual $50 pass good for both parks would be discontinued in favor of each park having its own $60 annual pass.

Town leaders formally opposed the plan in a comment letter.

"The South Gate of Yellowstone and Moran gate of Grand Teton are separated by only 28 miles on Highway 89/191/287," the letter says. "It makes no sense for visitors to have to pay separate entrance fees at both parks."

"We're pricing people out of our public lands, our national heritage," Jackson Town Councilor Jim Stanford told the Jackson Hole News & Guide (http://bit.ly/1vRF8KY). "Public lands are not supposed to be managed like a business."

For companies such as Jackson Hole Anglers, the parks' planned fee hike will be passed on to clients.

"That becomes pretty significant when all they're trying to do is go fishing for four hours," said Dave Ellerstein, owner of Jackson Hole Anglers, which runs guided fishing trips in Yellowstone.

"(The proposal) really seems to target the people coming from Jackson," he said. "The end product is that it's twice as expensive to visit Yellowstone coming out of Jackson than it is from any other gate."

Eco Tour Adventures is another Jackson Hole company that does business in the parks that will pass the higher costs along to their clients.

"It is a little discouraging that the Park Service is going to go ahead and double the weekly cost of a pass from $25 to $50," said Taylor Phillips, who owns the wildlife safari company. "I would say 90 percent of our guests visit both parks.

"The parks need to be affordable for everyone," Phillips said.

But Jason Williams, who owns Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris, supports the new fee structure.

"Even though it's kind of a big jump, it's a reasonable jump," Williams said. "What we hear from a lot of our guests is that the park fees are really, really cheap."

The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce and National Parks Conservation Association also have gone on record supporting the fee increases.

Grand Teton National Park closed its public comment period last Friday.

Yellowstone is accepting comments until Dec. 20

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Information from: Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News And Guide, http://www.jhnewsandguide.com