The Goldendale Sentinel - Headlines & History since 1879

By Brandon Cline

Parks raise fees for seniors


September 6, 2017

On Aug. 28, the National Park Service increased the cost of the National Parks & Federal Recreational Lands Lifetime Senior Pass for the first time in 23 years. The pass, which had previously just been $10, will now cost those wishing to purchase the lifetime pass $80, an eightfold price increase.

The hike in the cost is tied to legislation passed by the United States Congress in December of 2016. The National Park Service Centennial Act dictates that the cost of the lifetime senior pass be the same as the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass, which is currently $80. However, those who purchased lifetime senior passes at the previous price of $10 will be grandfathered in and honored by the National Park Service for life.

The cost to purchase an annual senior pass is $20, and four annual senior passes can be exchanged for a free lifetime senior pass. Currently, only 118 of the 417 National Park Service sites have an entrance fee.

The senior pass provides access to over 2,000 recreation sites managed by the National Park Service, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service, and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers. The senior pass also allows the pass holder's traveling companions to enter the park for free.

The funds raised from all senior passes sold in national parks will go to a National Park Endowment and a National Park Centennial Challenge Fund. The first $10 million collected in each fiscal year will go to the Second Century Endowment, which is managed by the National Park Foundation. Those funds will be expanded by the Secretary of the Interior on projects and activities that “further the mission and purpose of the National Park Service.”

Estimated revenue from the senior passes is $37.6 million, which will be used to “enhance the visitor experience, with an emphasis on deferred maintenance, improved visitor facilities, and trail maintenance.”

There are several national parks—as well as many national historic sites and trails—in Washington state, including Mount Rainier National Park, North Cascades National Park and Olympic National Park. Crater Lake in Oregon is also a designated national park, and Fort Vancouver in Vancouver is a national historic site.


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