Increased fees could raise more than $1 million for Glacier National Park over the next three years, if the same number of visitors show up and Congress doesn’t decrease funding to the National Park Service.
“You have to be careful,” the park’s head fee collector, Jerry Nelson, said of the estimate. “It depends on a lot of unknowns and a lot of variables.”
Earlier this fall, the National Park Service announced a new experimental fee structure intended to boost park revenues.
The weekly charge for a carload of visitors doubles from $5 to $10.
Glacier will be able to keep 80 percent of the extra money. In the past, all fees have gone to the U.S. Treasury.
If visitation remains the same, Nelson estimates Glacier could collect an extra $1.5 million to $1.75 million by the time the experiment ends. Glacier’s annual budget is about $8 million a year.
But visitor counts have been down the past two years. Visitation fluctuates depending on weather, the economy and other factors.
And any increase could be rendered moot should Congress decide to cut the money it allocates to the National Park Service.
The park is considering posting voluntary fee boxes at entrance stations during off-hours, or at entrance stations that are not staffed. The amount collected would depend on the honesty of park visitors.
The park also is planning fees for other services, such as backcountry permits and sewage dumps for recreational vehicles. Officials have not set the rates