This editorial appeared in Thursday's Anchorage Daily News:
Ten bucks just to apply for a chance to drive the Denali park road in September? What next - the sale of personal seat licenses for the right to buy a ticket to ride a park bus?
Note to the Park Service: U.S. taxpayers already have paid for our parks. We will keep paying. And if we need to pay something extra to cover the costs of that September drive, or a higher regular-season park entry fee, we'll do so, within reason. We understand that what began as a post-tourist season break for a few Alaskans in 1990 has blossomed into 18,000 applications, an expensive four days and a clerical pain.
But 10 bucks just to enter the lottery?
Teddy Roosevelt, who did more to establish the reality and the ideal of national parks than any other president, wouldn't stand two seconds for this one. Denali Superintendent Paul Anderson didn't just up and decide to raise fees to make it more expensive for park users. Mr. Anderson said the park took an 8 percent real cut in its budget in 2004, counting both reductions and increased costs. And the four-day September drive costs the Park Service money for rangers, attendants and standby road workers - about $14 per visitor, or $90,000 for some 6,400 people.
But charging Alaskans and anyone else 10 bucks just to take a chance for a drive through a park they're already paying for is flat wrong.
The people who pay the freight shouldn't have to pay just to knock on the gate. This is God's country, and this is home.
Drop the $10, good stewards. Deal with the applications.
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