AAC, Access Fund and AMGA write NPS over fee increases at Denali and Mt Rainier

September 7, 2010

Jon Jarvis
Director, National Park Service 
U.S. Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20240

E-mail:  Jon_Jarvis@nps.gov

RE:     Mountaineering Fees: Denali National Park & Preserve/Mount Rainier National Park 

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 awill 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, see www.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:

o   Search and rescue and any emergency medical services
o   Visitor use statistics (numbers, categories and attributes of park users)
o   General park operations and law enforcement
o   Interpretation
o   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.
  • Any National Park Service records or correspondence related to any proposals to increase the 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.

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Copyright 2010 Recreation Law (720) Edit Law, Recreaton.Law@Gmail.com

© 2010 James H. Moss

Keywords: #outdoor law, #recreation law, #outdoor recreation law, #adventure travel law, #law, #travel law, #Jim Moss, #James H. Moss, #attorney at law, #tourism, #adventure tourism, #rec-law, #rec-law blog, #recreation law, #recreation law blog, #risk management, #Human Powered, #human powered recreation, #NPS, #AAC, #AMGA, #Access Fund, #Mt. Rainier, #Denali, #National Park Service, #fees,

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One Comment on “AAC, Access Fund and AMGA write NPS over fee increases at Denali and Mt Rainier”

  1. Anonymous says:

    These special interest groups need to fact-check before they post demands for information. NPS is required by law to hold public meetings before any proposed changes are made to management plans. In addition, the mountaineering fee does not cover search and rescue as they claim.

    Finally, it has been proven that only special interest groups with an immediate stake show up to public meetings, not the rest of the stakeholders involved in the issue. ALL comment should be considered, not just the ones that voice their immediate opinion.


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