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Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today

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Hi everyone,

Yosemite officials today announced plans to raise the park entrance fee to $30 per car from the current $20 per car. That fee, which the park says would help it keep pace with inflation, also would give Yosemite the highest entrance fee of any of America's 401 national parks. Yosemite officials also announced plans today to increase camping fees.

I'm writing a story about this for the San Jose Mercury News and would be interested in hearing the thoughts of folks who post on this board.

Please email or call me today if you have thoughts at progers@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5045.

The press release is below.

Thanks very much,

Paul Rogers
San Jose Mercury News
Environment & Natural Resources Writer

==============================


Yosemite News Release

October 20, 2014

For Immediate Release



Media Contacts:

Scott Gediman & Ashley Mayer 209-372-0248

Kari Cobb 209-372-0529



Yosemite National Park Proposes Entrance Fee and Campground Fee Increase

30 Day Public Engagement Period Begins Today


Yosemite National Park is proposing to increase entrance fees into the park. The single vehicle entrance fee would change from $20 to $30 for a seven day pass. The park’s annual pass would increase from $40 to $60. The current rate of $10 per individual or motorcycle would increase to $15 for an individual and $25 per motorcycle. Interagency Passes, which are honored at all federally managed land units, are not affected by the proposed fee increase and will remain at $80 for the regular pass, $10 for the Senior Pass and free for the Access and Military passes. The current park entrance fees have been in place since 1997, when a seven day pass was increased from $5 to $20 per vehicle. According to the U.S. Bureau of labor and Statistics, $20 in 1997 is equivalent to $29.64 in 2014. This fee change will allow Yosemite to maintain consistent revenue while adjusting accordingly for inflation.

The additional revenue from the fee increase will be used to enhance visitor services, including repair and maintenance of park facilities, restoration and rehabilitation of visitor service buildings, additional park programs and transportation services, and increase resource protection.

Yosemite National Park is also evaluating current campground rates to determine if camping fees are adequate to sustain campground operations. The current campground rates have been in place since 2006 and range between $5 per night to $20 per night for family sites and $40 per night for group sites. The park is proposing to raise camping fees with fees ranging from $6 per night to $24 per night for family sites and $48 per night for group sites. The park will utilize comparable campground rates and public feedback to determine if an adjustment to campground fees is warranted.

A 30-day public engagement period on the proposed fee increase is open today, Monday, October 20, 2014 through Thursday, November 20, 2014. Feedback will be accepted via email at: yose_planning@nps.gov and via U.S. Mail at: Superintendent Attention Proposed Fee Increase P.O. Box 577 Yosemite, CA 95389. The public is also invited to an open house in the Yosemite Valley Auditorium, located behind the Yosemite Valley Visitor Center, on Wednesday, November 12, 2014 from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., which will include public engagement.

The new fees could be implemented in early 2015. However, the implementation schedule may vary based on the results of civic engagement. The park will develop an implementation schedule that supports local communities and interested stakeholders.

The park is a strong economic engine for the region and local communities. Previous fee increases have had no negative effect on visitation levels. This fee increase is part of a larger National Park Service initiative to standardize fees in similar national parks across the country.



-NPS-
Update:

The fee increase is part of a national plan. The Obama administration is proposing raising entrance fees at Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and other marquee parks to $30, and raising fees at about 130 other units.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_26612430/feds-seek-50-hike-rocky-mountain-national-park?source=infinite

I'm still interested in hearing from folks about your thoughts on this.

Best,
Paul
To be honest, I had no idea why Yosemite the entrance fee never was raised from $20. Even a small park like Bryce Canyon charges $25.
can't complain really.... i just worry someday down the road, it being too expensive to where only those who can really afford it can go.
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PaulRogers

Yosemite National Park is proposing to increase entrance fees into the park. The single vehicle entrance fee would change from $20 to $30 for a seven day pass. The park’s annual pass would increase from $40 to $60. The current rate of $10 per individual or motorcycle would increase to $15 for an individual and $25 per motorcycle. Interagency Passes, which are honored at all federally managed land units, are not affected by the proposed fee increase and will remain at $80 for the regular pass, $10 for the Senior Pass and free for the Access and Military passes. The current park entrance fees have been in place since 1997, when a seven day pass was increased from $5 to $20 per vehicle. According to the U.S. Bureau of labor and Statistics, $20 in 1997 is equivalent to $29.64 in 2014. This fee change will allow Yosemite to maintain consistent revenue while adjusting accordingly for inflation.


The problem with this logic is that the wages of many people, especially of the lower middle class (and poorer) have NOT kept up with inflation. Wages for a wide swath of people have remained relatively stagnant with their purchasing power decreasing accordingly. The Park Service needs to keep this in mind, lest they price out these poorer Americans that already have fewer recreational options available to them.

A 50% increase in the entrance fee is simply too draconian for the poorer members of our society. A increase to $25 (still a 25% increase) would be more reasonable.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/20/2014 09:36PM by plawrence.
avatar Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 21, 2014 01:52AM
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plawrence
A 50% increase in the entrance fee is simply too draconian for the poorer members of our society.

The increase for $5 to $20 was even more so.
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eeek
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plawrence
A 50% increase in the entrance fee is simply too draconian for the poorer members of our society.

The increase for $5 to $20 was even more so.


And the effects were immediately apparent. Day use of the park by the low income residents of the Central Valley dropped significantly after the park entrance fee jumped to $20.

Before that rate increase, the designated picnic areas throughout the park, especially within Yosemite Valley, would be be packed on weekends with Central Valley residents enjoying a day in the park. Now some picnic areas — like the El Capitan picnic area — rarely fill up, even on a weekend afternoon.

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$30 may be OK for seven days, but it seems steep for those who only visit for one day.
I don't have a problem with the fee increase....the park is a bargain at twice the price. I still believe that US Citizens (i.e. taxpayers that financially support the federal government and its programs) should not pay the same as those visitors from out of the country. Non-US citizens should pay a premium.
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Bearproof

I still believe that US Citizens (i.e. taxpayers that financially support the federal government and its programs) should not pay the same as those visitors from out of the country. Non-US citizens should pay a premium.


I think non-US residents should pay a premium. (Almost all U.S. residents are taxpayers that help support our federal government, regardless of their citizenship.)

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plawrence
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Bearproof

I still believe that US Citizens (i.e. taxpayers that financially support the federal government and its programs) should not pay the same as those visitors from out of the country. Non-US citizens should pay a premium.


I think non-US residents should pay a premium. (Almost all U.S. residents are taxpayers that help support our federal government, regardless of their citizenship.)

Agree in theory to the extent we're basing it on residency and not citizenship. In practice...depends on what it would do to the lines at the entrance points. It's not worth "cutting off my nose to spite my face" (presumably residency would be much easier to show anyway, no American carries passports to a National Park).

As to the overall topic...inflation happens. Probably the size of the increase in this case is a big jolt given the period of time since the last one, increasing in increments of $5 may be easier (increasing in increments of $1 would almost certainly lengthen entrance point lines). But, comments about the increment size are really directed towards the next increase and not this one.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/21/2014 07:22PM by ttilley.
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ttilley
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plawrence
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Bearproof

I still believe that US Citizens (i.e. taxpayers that financially support the federal government and its programs) should not pay the same as those visitors from out of the country. Non-US citizens should pay a premium.


I think non-US residents should pay a premium. (Almost all U.S. residents are taxpayers that help support our federal government, regardless of their citizenship.)

Agree in theory to the extent we're basing it on residency and not citizenship. In practice...depends on what it would do to the lines at the entrance points. It's not worth "cutting off my nose to spite my face" (presumably residency would be much easier to show anyway, no American carries passports to a National Park).


The driver of the vehicle showing a valid U.S. state driver license should be sufficient to prove residency. No need to carry around one's passport or green card.
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plawrence
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ttilley
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plawrence
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Bearproof

I still believe that US Citizens (i.e. taxpayers that financially support the federal government and its programs) should not pay the same as those visitors from out of the country. Non-US citizens should pay a premium.


I think non-US residents should pay a premium. (Almost all U.S. residents are taxpayers that help support our federal government, regardless of their citizenship.)

Agree in theory to the extent we're basing it on residency and not citizenship. In practice...depends on what it would do to the lines at the entrance points. It's not worth "cutting off my nose to spite my face" (presumably residency would be much easier to show anyway, no American carries passports to a National Park).


The driver of the vehicle showing a valid U.S. state driver license should be sufficient to prove residency. No need to carry around one's passport or green card.

A driver license doesn't necessarily prove either citizenship or permanent residency. It was possible to get a driver license in many states without any status check, and then it could be renewed indefinitely. I work in Silicon Valley, and a lot of people do get more recently obtained 1st time driver licenses on the basis of valid work permits or from being the spouse of someone with a valid work permit. Someone on a student visa can get a driver license. More recently it's no longer a requirement in California under AB 60.

However, the senior and disabled passes are only supposed to be issued to US nationals (there are non-citizen US nationals) or permanent residents. I remember my parents being issued these, and frankly nobody asked once an ID was produced that showed their ages.

Also - it's required by law that anyone with a green card carry it at all times if at least 18. There's a fairly minor penalty and it's almost never enforced. However, I remember that law in Arizona that attempted to make it a more serious state offense with a bigger fine and more jail time. And I think the thing that the law really did was put enforcement and prosecution in the hands of Arizona rather than the feds.

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http://www.uscis.gov/iframe/ilink/docView/SLB/HTML/SLB/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-29/0-0-0-8289.html

INA: ACT 264 - FORMS AND PROCEDURE

Sec. 264. [8 U.S.C. 1304]

(e) Every alien, eighteen years of age and over, shall at all times carry with him and have in his personal possession any certificate of alien registration or alien registration receipt card issued to him pursuant to subsection (d). Any alien who fails to comply with the provisions of this subsection shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall upon conviction for each offense be fined not to exceed $100 or be imprisoned not more than thirty days, or both.
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ttilley

As to the overall topic...inflation happens. Probably the size of the increase in this case is a big jolt given the period of time since the last one, increasing in increments of $5 may be easier (increasing in increments of $1 would almost certainly lengthen entrance point lines). But, comments about the increment size are really directed towards the next increase and not this one.


Maybe NPS should institute a two-day pass. Have a seven-day pass available for $30, but a two-day pass just for $25.

Also, if they care about revenue, then need to man the entrance stations for longer periods of time. (Which — to their credit — they were doing more of this year.) In the past, often times I entered and left the park after 7:00 PM (which is common for many people traveling to Yosemite to and from the Bay Area) and there wasn't anyone manning the Big Oak Flat Entrance station. I have an America the Beautiful pass, so I wasn't short-changing the Park Service, but I wonder how much revenue they lost in the past for not manning the entrance stations for longer periods of time.

.
Congrats to Paul on his Journalist of the Year Award: http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_26772188/bay-area-news-group-staffers-win-top-journalism .

Interesting that the Yosemite weekly and annual passes are proposed to rise by 50% but there is no increase in the America the Beautiful pass. With the Yosemite Annual pass at $60 and the America Beautiful at $80, I'll probably switch over to getting the latter.
We've been getting the "all national parks pass" (name has changed at least once) since we were first aware of them. They used to be paper. We have quite the stack of them now. Best darned bargain ever. I can't believe how Disneyland gets away with charging what they do, but people squawk at $20 for a car full of people for a week. Accommodation issues are separate for both places, with Yosemite having generally cheaper options available.

Question and I'm a bit concerned about this... Do the entrance fees still stay in the park in which they are collected? I thought so, and if true, I'd be okay with this increase.

Also, the Yosemite announcement says " Previous fee increases have had no negative effect on visitation levels." Then WRT to what Lawrence said above.. did the mix of people change (picnic areas not as used), if the absolute visitation rates didn't?
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JustKeepWalking

Also, the Yosemite announcement says " Previous fee increases have had no negative effect on visitation levels." Then WRT to what Lawrence said above.. did the mix of people change (picnic areas not as used), if the absolute visitation rates didn't?


I guess it depends on what NPS means by "no negative effect". Maybe they view less people visiting the park as a positive!

But visitation did clearly drop between 1996 and 1997 (the year the entrance fee went from $5 to $20).

In 1996, 4,046,207 people visited Yosemite National Park (an all-time high), the next year (1997) only 3,669,970 visited the park, a drop of 376,237 visitors!

Park attendance continued to drop thereafter (reversing a decades long trend of ever increasing attendance) until it hit a low of 3,242,644 visitors in 2006. It has slowly rebounded since then. In 2013, 3,691,191 people visited Yosemite.

Here's a link to the official visitation stats for Yosemite National park from 1906 to 2013: NPS Stats: Annual Park Recreation Visitation for Yosemite NP

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Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 24, 2014 09:20AM
Don't forget that there was a lot "negative" stuff happening in Yosemite around this time (1997-ish) that probably turned away a few people: the first day-use restrictions on peak summer days, the Glacier Point/Happy Isles rockfall, the big flood, and the Stayner murders. I suspect the flood had the biggest lasting impact in visitation, since it resulted in the loss of hundreds of campsites and lodge rooms in the valley.
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plawrence
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JustKeepWalking

Also, the Yosemite announcement says " Previous fee increases have had no negative effect on visitation levels." Then WRT to what Lawrence said above.. did the mix of people change (picnic areas not as used), if the absolute visitation rates didn't?


I guess it depends on what NPS means by "no negative effect". Maybe they view less people visiting the park as a positive!

But visitation did clearly drop between 1996 and 1997 (the year the entrance fee went from $5 to $20).

In 1996, 4,046,207 people visited Yosemite National Park (an all-time high), the next year (1997) only 3,669,970 visited the park, a drop of 376,237 visitors!

Park attendance continued to drop thereafter (reversing a decades long trend of ever increasing attendance) until it hit a low of 3,242,644 visitors in 2006. It has slowly rebounded since then. In 2013, 3,691,191 people visited Yosemite.

Here's a link to the official visitation stats for Yosemite National park from 1906 to 2013: NPS Stats: Annual Park Recreation Visitation for Yosemite NP

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I probably shouldn't ask, but do they count all the people in the cars as visitors or just the "car" as a visitor? I didn't see anything in the link addressing this.
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JohnC

I probably shouldn't ask, but do they count all the people in the cars as visitors or just the "car" as a visitor? I didn't see anything in the link addressing this.

They're supposed to count and keep track of the number of people in the vehicles when they enter the park. That's pretty straight forward at parks like Yosemite that have entrance stations, but I don't know how they calculate the number of visitors in parks like Death Valley where one pays the entrance fee away from the vehicle at the visitor center or ranger station.
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plawrence
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JohnC

I probably shouldn't ask, but do they count all the people in the cars as visitors or just the "car" as a visitor? I didn't see anything in the link addressing this.

They're supposed to count and keep track of the number of people in the vehicles when they enter the park. That's pretty straight forward at parks like Yosemite that have entrance stations, but I don't know how they calculate the number of visitors in parks like Death Valley where one pays the entrance fee away from the vehicle at the visitor center or ranger station.

I remember seeing various documents on the procedure. It's different for each park, and a lot involves extrapolation and guesswork. Here's the one for Yosemite:

https://irma.nps.gov/Stats/DownloadFile/962

It involves the use of inductive loop sensors to determine how many vehicles enter, even after the entrance stations are closed. There's a lot of guesswork and averages that they probably got from sampling the number of people in vehicles and averaging that.
avatar Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 23, 2014 02:18PM
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Dave_Ayers
With the Yosemite Annual pass at $60 and the America Beautiful at $80, I'll probably switch over to getting the latter.

And that pass gets you more than just the National Parks. After the Reds Meadow shuttle ended for the year the entry fee was $10 per car. With the pass it was $0.
avatar Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 22, 2014 07:36AM
Was out enjoying our National Park and Wilderness area. smiling smiley

Article was already in the paper... but my comment is simply that CALIFORNIA State Parks
are overpriced. Especially w/r to Backpacking.

For 80 bucks (or absolutely ZERO if come in from National Forest areas)... I can
backpack the entire year in and around Yosemite and all up and down The Sierra...

Wanna go to Henry Coe? A "Backpackers Paradise" ? meh ...
5 day trip for two people will cost you:
8*4 + 5*4*2 = 72

72 dollars... really? serious? uh huh... I think I'll go to Yosemite ... thanks.



Chick-on is looking at you!
And state park prices have increased in some parks in the past weeks! Red Rock Canyon camping increased to $25 from $15. And at San Elijo State Beach...where I just also stayed. A beach side full hook-up site would cost you, for one night...$70 plus an $8 reservation fee. Have an extra car? Shell out $15 more. The year long day pass was $175...don't know if that is higher, too.

Yes, the $80 America the Beautiful Pass is a bargain. I hope that will remain the same til I can get my old timer's pass. Camping will still be affordable in the valley, too. As always, though, with income going down, I hate to see rec prices going up.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2014 10:47AM by hikerchick395.
Or take a family to the movies -- try doing that for $30.

Seriously, when people pay more than this for a couple of pizzas, this seems like a bargain, any way you look at it.



Balzaccom

follow our adventures, read our blog, or just to come hang out at our website: http://www.backpackthesierra.com/
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balzaccom
Or take a family to the movies -- try doing that for $30.

Seriously, when people pay more than this for a couple of pizzas, this seems like a bargain, any way you look at it.


I hope you realize that there are a lot of families in America that can't afford to pay over $30 for two pizzas or pay full price to see movies at a movie theatre.

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avatar Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 26, 2014 10:35PM
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plawrence

I hope you realize that there are a lot of families in America that can't afford to pay over $30 for two pizzas or pay full price to see movies at a movie theatre.

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Oh, puh-LEEEZE. I have been following this "what about the poor people?!" croc since the beginning of this thread.

As a former poor person (I think that only being able to eat every other day for a period of time qualifies as "poor"winking smiley I can tell you that a $10 increase in the Yosemite fee is not the deal breaker in whether a "poor person" can go to Yosemite...or not. That deal was broken a long time ago when gas doubled by the year -- but wages did not, cars became more expensive than houses, campgrounds cost more than motels, School 'supplies' lists became longer than grocery lists, and since the "Great Recession it takes THREE JOBS to cover the income of one, because there arn't enough full-time jobs to go around.

When you are poor, you don't have time for Yosemite, because you are too damned busy trying to keep your head above water.



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.
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Bee

When you are poor, you don't have time for Yosemite, because you are too damned busy trying to keep your head above water.


Sorry, but this is a bunch of croc!

Lower working class people do have enough time, even between their multiple jobs, to treat their families to nice picnics and a day in the park on their day off. Having volunteered with several social agencies that help low income families make ends meet, I'm quite aware what they can, and cannot afford to do.

And unlike you, they don't appear to be so bitter about their plight despite cramped living conditions and meager pay.

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avatar Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 27, 2014 09:32AM
Oh, I forgot -- I am addressing the resident expert on everything.

Mea Culpa!

I guess your particular group of "poor people" has much more leisure time than the rest. Great!

Telling the truth is interpreted as bitter? You must live in la-la land. The truth is the truth -- sorry that it does not fit into your rosey picture of families sitting down with smiling faces enjoying a pic-nic, so pack that croc in your basket.

I think the real crime against the public is pricing in the State Park system. These parks are closer to most folks, and they do not require an overnight stay to enjoy, but as Chick-on mentioned, a single entrance fee could equal a weeks access to Yosemite.



The body betrays and the weather conspires, hopefully, not on the same day.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/27/2014 09:40AM by Bee.
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Bee

I think the real crime against the public is pricing in the State Park system. These parks are closer to most folks, and they do not require an overnight stay to enjoy, but as Chick-on mentioned, a single entrance fee could equal a weeks access to Yosemite.


Yosemite doesn't require an overnight stay to enjoy either.

Highest day use vehicle entrance fee for a California State Park: $15
Day use vehicle entrance fee for Yosemite National Park: Currently $20, proposed: $30.

As a more equitable solution, maybe NPS should increase the 7-Day pass for Yosemite to $30 as proposed and institute a separate vehicle single-day Day Use pass that would cost $20.

.
I have no problem paying to visit the park. My problem is: Where does that money go? My understanding is that the money collected at each park does do not go back into that park. It goes into the US Government general fund to be spent however they see fit. That money should go into the Park System. Please correct me if I am wrong.
avatar Re: Yosemite announces entry fee increase - Mercury News reporter looking for comments today
October 24, 2014 04:02PM
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boomtown
My understanding is that the money collected at each park does do not go back into that park. It goes into the US Government general fund to be spent however they see fit.

You are wrong. The larger parks retain 80% of the fee income and the smaller parks keep all of it.

http://www.nps.gov/policy/DOrders/DO-22.pdf
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eeek
The larger parks retain 80% of the fee income and the smaller parks keep all of it.
http://www.nps.gov/policy/DOrders/DO-22.pdf

And, at least according to these recently published FAQs, the 20% that does not go to the larger parks goes to the NPS for supporting parks that charge no fee (not sure if that's what you meant by a "US Government general fund" but I think not).
Thanks for the info. It's good to know that money is going to where it belongs.
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