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September 7, 2010
Jon Jarvis Director, National Park Service
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240
RE: Mountaineering Fees: Denali National Park & Preserve/Mount Rainier
Dear Director Jarvis:
The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and American Mountain Guides Association recently became aware that Denali National Park & Preserve (Denali) intends, without public notice, to raise mountaineering fees 150% from $200 to $500 per climber. In addition, a steep increase for mountaineering fees (from $30 to $50 on top of camping fees) is proposed at Mount Rainier National Park (Rainier). In these tough economic times, these large fee increases will price Americans out of their own parks. We write today to protest these unnecessary and unfair mountaineering fee increases, and request information about National Park Service mountaineering programs and any associated budgeting and related costs to better understand the need to raise these already disproportionate recreation fees.
We are particularly troubled that these fee increases did not receive the benefit of public input and the National Park Service failed to even consult with its long-time partners at the Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association. We request that any proposals to increase mountaineering fees at Denali or Rainier be analyzed through a range of alternatives and benefit from an open public process with published information about the need and purpose for an increased fee.
Access Fund, American Alpine Club and American Mountain Guides Association
The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, and American Mountain Guides Association are national climbing advocacy organizations dedicated to climbing access, conservation, advancing the climbing way of life, and advocating for American climbers. These national climbing organization each have a long history of working with the National Park Service, including input on the 2006 revision to the NPS Management Policies, comment letters on hundreds of local management plans around the country, rescue cost- recovery and recreation impact studies, grants and many thousands of volunteer hours in support education and stewardship projects, field training and climbing management conferences, and congressional advocacy urging robust funding for National Park Service operations. We have also long worked collaboratively with the National Park Service and dozens of other national parks around the country on climbing management planning initiatives and stewardship projects. For more about us, seewww.accessfund.org, www.americanalpineclub.org, and http://amga.com.
The Access Fund, American Alpine Club, American Mountain Guides Association are your best partners with respect to the education of mountaineers, public support for your management goals and programs, and the fulfillment of your obligation to provide unique mountaineering opportunities in the parks. However, these fee increases were proposed without input from the mountaineering community despite our expertise and affiliation with this specific user group (mountaineers). Denali’s plan to raise mountaineering fees from $200 to $500 reflects an unprecedented increase, is not based on need, and unfairly targets climbers. Moreover, simply raising fees 150% without public input during these tough economic times is shocking and is likely to result in lower numbers of Americans able to afford the unique mountaineering experiences found at Denali. This extraordinary mountaineering fee increase is a national issue and we believe that Denali managers may simply be unfairly shifting more of the burden of the park’s budget onto climbers. We’re also skeptical that the current fee level for mountaineering is warranted. Rainier’s fee increase appears similarly unjustified. We fear that these added costs will make the unique mountaineering opportunities available at Denali and Rainier too expensive for many Americans.
So we can better understand the National Park Service’s specific management challenges related to mountaineering (and thus inform our members and the public generally), we request your cooperation in providing us with as much information as possible related to mountaineering programs and any associated plans or programs at both Denali and Rainier. To that end, we request the following information from these two parks:
- Any costs, expenses, and budgeting documentation, correspondence or related information (including years) concerning the mountaineering programs (or other park operations affecting climbing management) at Denali and Rainier, specifically:
- Search and rescue and any emergency medical services
- Visitor use statistics (numbers, categories and attributes of park users)
- General park operations and law enforcement
- Visitor and resource protection
- Any National Park Service records or correspondence related to the establishment and maintenance of the current mountaineering fee at Denali and Rainier national parks.
- All public or individual notices provided by the National Park Service concerning the preparation of any management plans or policies that have any proposals or influence on recreation fees at Denali and Rainier national parks.
- We will be filing a Freedom of Information Act request to both Denali and Rainier to obtain the information outlined above. If you have any questions regarding this request, please contact any of us at your convenience. We look forward to working with the National Park Service to preserve the world-class mountaineering opportunities found at Denali and Rainier national parks.
Thank you for your assistance.
Brady Robinson, Executive Director
The Access Fund, 303-545-6772 x101
Phil Powers, Executive Director
American Alpine Club, 303-384-0110 x12
Betsy Novak, Executive Director
American Mountain Guides Association, 303-271-0984 x101
- The Honorable Patty Murray, US Senate
- The Honorable Maria Cantwell, US Senate
- The Honorable Lisa Murkowski, US Senate
- The Honorable Mark Begich, US Senate
- The Honorable Don Young, US House of Representatives
- The Honorable Dave Reichert, US House of Representatives
- US Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
- US Senate National Parks Subcommittee
- US House of Representatives Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
- US House of Representatives National Parks, Forests, and Public Lands Subcommittee
- Will Shafroth, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, US Interior Department
- Garry Oye, Chief of Wilderness Stewardship & Recreation Management, National Park Service
- Rick Potts, Chief of Conservation & Outdoor Recreation Division, National Park Service
- Paul Anderson, Superintendent, Denali National Park
- Dave Uberuaga, Superintendent, Mount Rainier National Park
- Mike Gauthier, Liaison to the National Park Service, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife, and Parks, US Interior Department