STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Some other news. The cost of entering a national park may soon go up a lot. The Interior Department is proposing to more than double entry fees for popular parks in busy months. The money would address $11 billion worth of deferred maintenance. NPR's Nathan Rott reports.
NATHAN ROTT, BYLINE: The National Park Service has a longstanding money problem. That's the impetus for this proposed fee increase, which would change the entrance fee from $30 for a car to $70 for some of the country's most popular parks during their peak summer months. Marysue Costello lives in West Yellowstone, Mont., a gateway community for two of those parks, Yellowstone and Grand Teton. And she says she gets it. She's seen the crumbling parking lots and long bathroom lines.
MARYSUE COSTELLO: Something has to be done. Most certainly. But, yes, we are concerned that it could affect, particularly, families on a lower income.
ROTT: Costello works at West Yellowstone's chamber of commerce and visitor's center, and she says she's constantly struck by the joy people share after their visit to a park, and she worries...
COSTELLO: If they're priced out of that market, how long will that desire and dedication to preserving national parks be within the ethos of the American people?
ROTT: The Interior Department projects the increase would raise an additional $70 million a year, and they argue that it's needed. A record 331 million people visited parks last year. John Loomis, a professor at Colorado State University, recently conducted a survey that found that people were willing to pay more to maintain and preserve parks, and he says he doesn't think the fee increase would be prohibitive. Compared to hotels, rental cars and other expenses...
JOHN LOOMIS: It's a small part of the overall cost of the trip.
ROTT: Public comments on the proposal are being accepted until Thanksgiving. Nathan Rott, NPR News.