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Theodore Roosevelt National Park set to increase fees

DICKINSON, N.D. - As part of a national initiative, Theodore Roosevelt National Park has proposed increasing entrance and camping fees for park-goers.

If passed, visitor fees would increase from $10 to $25 per vehicle and from $20 to $50 for an annual pass. Camping fees would increase anywhere from $2 to $17, depending on which campground you stay at.

"They are not huge increases," said Elieen Andes, a representative from the park. "What we are proposing is to phase it in rather than enact it all at once."

The fees, which would go into effect on May 1, would gradually increase over the next three years.

Eileen Andes said that national parks can only use money from fees for projects that have a "direct visitor benefit."

Andes said there are several projects that the fee revenue could be put towards, including trail maintenance, the printing of visitor guides, roadside exhibits, campground maintenance and bulletin boards at trailheads.

"We have a laundry list," Andes said.

What people don't realize, she said, is that most of the national park's budget goes toward fixed expenses, like employee salaries, vehicle maintenance and facility upkeep.

She said that the Visitor Center at the park's North Unit needs to be replaced because soil slumping has caused it to begin leaning to one side and has left it unusable.

The proposed fee increase is a national initiative that has been approved by the U.S. Congress. Fees at Theodore Roosevelt National Park have not been changed since 2006, Andes said.

"For people who live near the North or South Units, the annual pass is a good deal," she said.

Andes said that annual passes for all federal land throughout the country and senior citizen passes will not be affected by the change. Currently, those park passes cost $30 for the annual pass and $10 for a lifetime senior pass.

Andes said that the fee system at national parks is structured on a tier system, where larger national parks can charge more than smaller ones.

The proposed rule change is open to public comment for the rest of this month, Andes said.

"A lot of people say we shouldn't change fees, but a lot of people understand," Andes said. "It's not a bad deal, and it helps us maintain the park."

To view or comment on the proposal, go to parkplanning.nps.gov/parkHome.cfm?parkID=167.