Public comment period on raising national park fees closing soon - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Public comment period on raising national park fees closing soon

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KALISPELL - The comment period for a controversial proposal to more than double entrance fees for peak seasons at 17 national parks, including Glacier and Yellowstone, will be closing in just about a week.

But some don't feel the 30-day comment period is enough time, including John Gardner with the National Parks Conservation Association, a nonprofit bipartisan organization that advocates for improved funding for the National Park Service.

"We're very concerned that the public is only being given 30 days to comment on this proposal," Garder said. "It's just simply not enough time for people to be able to weigh in."

Senator Steve Daines agrees. On Wednesday he sent a letter to the acting director of the National Park Service asking for an extension of the public comment period.

A spokesman with the National Park Service says the 30-day comment period isn't unusual.

"I can't say thirty days is not an uncommon time period for our public comment process in the National Park System," said Jeremy Barnum. "Sometimes that varies from park to park but 30 days isn't extraordinary."

He says once every comment is reviewed, including Senator Daines' extension request, all will be taken into consideration before moving forward.

"We will go through all of the comments and categorize them according to the feedback we've received, and then we will take that into consideration to determine how we want to move forward with a proposal like this," Barnum said.

If the proposal were to move forward, the entrance fee increase would go into effect in 2018 from May through September.

The public comment period is open until Thanksgiving Day (Nov. 23) on the National Park Service Planning, Environment and Public Comment website.

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