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Park fees at Theodore Roosevelt National Park set to increase in June

The entrance to Theodore Roosevelt National Park is pictured on March 20, 2018. Sydney Mook / The Dickinson Press

MEDORA—People visiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park this summer will see slightly higher fees to explore the only park named after a U.S. president.

The park will be modifying its entrance fees in order to provide additional funding for infrastructure and maintenance needs to enhance visitor experience, the National Park Service announced Monday, April 16.

Effective June 1, 2018, entrance fees to the park will be $30 per car or $25 per motorcycle. An annual park pass will cost $55. Both are a $5 increase from current rates.

The price of the annual America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Annual Pass and Lifetime Senior Pass will remain $80.

"Entrance fee revenue remains in the National Park Service ensuring a quality experience for all who visit," the park said in a press release. "In Theodore Roosevelt National Park, at least 80 percent of entrance fees stay in the park and are devoted to spending that supports our visitors. We share the other 20 percent of entrance fee revenue with other national parks which do not collect fees."

Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site near Williston and Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site near Stanton are among the parks that do not charge entrance fees, but may fund projects from the 20 percent fees that come from other fee collecting parks.

In response to public comments on a national fee proposal released in October 2017, there will be a modest increase for all entrance fee-charging parks, rather than the higher peak-season fees initially proposed for only 17 highly visited national parks.

"We are committed to providing a high quality visitor experience," Wendy Hart Ross, superintendent of the North Dakota National Parks, said in a statement. "Fee monies have enabled us to acquire a temporary visitor contact station in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, install roadside interpretive exhibits in all units of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, improve audio visual accessibility for the park film at Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site, and provide an all- weather access road to Fort Union Trading Post National Historic Site. Without recreational fee funds, we would not be able to provide these and other improvements for our visitors."

The park said the additional entrance fee revenue at TRNP will fund the rehabilitation of the historic Peaceful Valley Ranch, campground restroom upgrades, and new signs for the entire park.

National parks have experienced over the past few years record breaking visitation, with more than 1.5 billion visitors in the last five years. The combination of aging infrastructure and increased visitation has put a strain on park roads, bridges, campgrounds, water lines, bathrooms, and other visitor facilities and led to a $11.6 billion deferred maintenance backlog nationwide.

Entrance fees collected in fiscal year 2016 by the NPS totaled $199.9 million The NPS estimates that once fully implemented, the new fee structure will increase annual entrance fee revenue by about $60 million.

Sydney Mook

Sydney Mook has been covering higher education at the Grand Forks Herald since May 2018. She previously served as the multimedia editor and cops, courts and health reporter at the Dickinson Press from January 2016 to May 2018.  She graduated from the University of South Dakota with a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science in three and half years in December 2015. While at the USD, she worked for the campus newspaper, The Volante, as well as the television news show, Coyote News. She also interned at South Dakota Public Broadcasting and spent the summer before her senior year interning in Fort Knox for the ROTC Cadet Summer Training program. In her spare time, Sydney enjoys cheering on the New York Yankees and the Kentucky Wildcats, as well as playing golf. If you've got an idea for a video be sure to give her a call!

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