November 21, 2017

National Park Service considering major entry fee increases.

First off I want to say thank-you to all of you. Over the past 6 years it has been mine and my staffs pleasure to share our love of SUP and our love of Acadia with you.  When I started Acadia SUP back in 2011 it was with the dream of being able to make a living sharing my passion for paddling and the outdoors with people.  I am constantly inspired each day by the people I have been able to meet and the ways in which SUP has had the power to provide them with exercise, enjoyment, and an appreciation for our environment.  Without you I wouldn't who I am or where I am today.

It is with those things in mind that I want to share with you some issues that have me very worried about future of my business and all small eco-tourism based companies.  In an effort to address horrible maintenance backlogs and funding shortages, the National Park Service has recently announced a proposal to more than double entry fees in most of the more busy National Parks including Acadia.

Currently in Acadia the fee for a week is $25 for a vehicle or $12 if walking or on bike.  The proposed increase would raise the rates to $70 for a vehicle and $30 for people walking or on a bike.  As many of you who have been out with us on beautiful Echo Lake or Long Pond know, these launch locations are inside the National Park and so everyone must have a park pass in addition to the cost of the tour.  With a $50 average price per person of a trip I am worried that any further increase in park entry fees will make it cost prohibitive for most people to be able to enjoy and few hours out on the water.  Many of you have come to Acadia for the day with the sole purpose of going paddle boarding and it would pain me to see you have to pay an entry fee into the park equal to 60% the cost of the tour.

While we will always continue to offer ocean trips, we understand that many of you, especially families with younger children would prefer a lake environment due to the more benign setting, warmer water, and not needing to don a wetsuit.  65% of all trips and 100% of all the rentals we offer take place on the lakes of Acadia. I am sure you can see how any loss in this key segment of our operation would have the effect in putting us out of business.

Its not just us either,  consider the impact it will have on other outfits as well.  Hiking tours, bike rental companies, rock climbing outfitters, and more will all face similar dilemmas.  It is these types activities that our national parks are for.  To see the price of entry become a deterrent to getting outside in areas that belong to us all and that are funded by our hard earned tax dollars angers me and I hope it angers you.

Rarely do I get political so I hope you will forgive me now; but to me it seems the issue is not the lack of funds in our federal budgets but the cavalier way in which our government spends and allocates our taxes among all the various agencies and departments.  With an almost 4.1 trillion dollar federal budget for 2018, the 11.7 billion proposed 2018 budget for the Department of the Interior is a slap in the face to the American people and what we stand for as a nation.

I implore you to let your congressional representatives know that this kind of action is unacceptable.  I also would like to encourage you to take a few minutes and let the National Park Service know your thoughts on how these fee increases will negatively impact not only small businesses but all Americans wishing to enjoy or public outdoor spaces.  The park just extended the public comment period until Dec 22 so there is still time to help prevent this from happening.  Please click here to access the public comment page and provide your feedback.

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