The good news for adventure travel and wilderness hiking trails is that the USA has protected some of the most unique and incredible places to see on earth. Our National, State Parks, Monuments and Wilderness Areas are awesome, but for years there have been reduced number of visitors. Many citizens have said that a four-year program to increase national parks entrance fees to make them more uniform may discourage some Americans from visiting their national parks such as the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion and Yellowstone.
The National Parks have been faced with a budget crisis. The parks are struggling to protect the historic, cultural and natural resources that the parks were created for. The parks are short of funds for operating facilities, repairs to roads, bridges, trails and buildings. There was an 814 million dollar shortfall in 2006. There are almost 400 areas of protection covered by the National Parks Service. Almost every park has fewer full time employees now than in 2001, while there were over 273,000,000 visitors to the parks in 2005. The park service needs more funding to provide education, interpretive and for the safety requirements of their visitors. This is a time of controversy about park fees, current plans for oil, gas and mineral exploration in our parks and of course removing the O’Shaughnessy Dam to restore the Hetch Hetchy Valley in Yosemite.
Recently the federal government has moved to replace the National Park Service’s $50 annual pass with a new $80 multi-agency pass. Some people think that the fee increases are getting out of line. The park service raised entrance fees at 34 parks over the past two years and plans to raise them at another 124 parks in 2008 and 2009. At Glacier National Park in Montana and Joshua Tree National Park in California, the fees will go up twice, and beginning in 2011, park officials plan to increase fees every three years, based on inflation. There is a proposal to double entrance fees next year at Crater Lake National Park, now $10 per car. Will it drive the local visitors away? In 1997, when the park service began raising fees, the number of national parks visitors has fallen 1% while entrance fee revenue has gone up almost 16%. Many of them are from outside the United States and love to visit the American protected lands.
Will the National Park Centennial Act to rescue our parks before 2016 – the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service? The acts purpose is to eliminate the annual operating deficit and maintenance backlog in the national parks. If it passed, it was to create a check off box on American tax returns to fund the parks. As H.R. 1124 and S 886 it did not get passed in 2006. In spring of 2006 the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report about our National Parks based on research, to the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee that found that funding had not kept pace with need, requiring park managers to reduce services including, “reducing visitor center hours, educational programs, basic custodial duties, and law enforcement operations, such as back-country patrolling. Additionally, the park system has been forced to close campgrounds, shorten operating hours, eliminate many interpretive programs, lay off many seasonal rangers, and eliminate many of the parks’ scientific studies programs.
So where’s the good news? Being an outdoor writer and avid traveler to our parks and wilderness areas Bob Therrien, President of TrainingPASS Sales, Inc. has created an outdoor recreation message board, he commented “The hardest part over the years, for me has been the research about which parks, hikes, climbs, locations and activities I want to visit with my family and friends. Exploring federal then state website after site, then mapping the distance from each area of interest is inefficient and many times lacking in information. To solve that inefficiency we have collected all the basic information about our parks, wilderness areas and national monuments and put them into one website. I don’t personally have a problem with the new park fees. It cost’s me more to take my family to the movies, and I’d rather enjoy a full day or two at a place like Denali National Park.
The USA has incredible adventure travel wilderness and hiking trails. To promote these areas AdventureZoneTOURS created a forum for sharing trip reports on National Parks, State Parks, National Monuments and Wilderness Areas.
The Outdoor Adventure Message Board opens up to reveal a listing of U.S. States, separated into travel regions. Click on any state region and there are sub forums for all the parks, monuments and wilderness areas in that region. Many times there are several interesting choices to pick from within a state region. For the activity-specific minded, AdventureZoneTOURS.com encourages users to share trip reports for a variety of outdoor activities from hiking, climbing, canyoneering, geo exploring, photography, ghost towns, mines, and cave to water sports such as boating, fishing, jet and water skiing, tubing, rafting, and scuba. Winter travel sports such as snowmobiling, skiing and snowboarding are featured. Hunting locations, ATV and horseback trails as well as the most scenic areas for outdoor photography are also available as individual topic posts. To research or share your favorite adventure travel location, and to share and promote outdoors, join us today!