Apostle Islands Consider Recreation Fee Increases
Apostle Islands Proposes Fee Increases
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore will hold two town hall meetings in August to discuss proposed recreation fee increases to be implemented in 2016.
The first, where park management comes to the park user, will take place at the Stockton Island Presque Isle Campground on August 21; the second will be at the park’s Bayfield Visitor Center at 415 Washington Avenue, Bayfield, on August 25.
Both meetings will take place from 4-6 p.m., with a presentation by park superintendent Bob Krumenaker at 4:30.
Participants will be able to review the current and proposed fee structure, the list of projects completed in recent years with fee revenue as well as those proposed for the future, ask questions, and submit comments.
Most of the current park fees have been in place since 2007.
Overnight camping and mooring at park docks, currently $10 and $20 (depending on group or boat size), would increase to $15 and $30.
Interpretive program fees for adults and families, currently $3 and $8, would increase to $5 and $10.
Parking at Meyers Beach, currently $3 and $5 (depending on vehicle size), would increase to $5 and $8.
There would be no change in the interpretive fee for children under 16 years of age ($3).
The $5 per person ice cave event fee instituted earlier this year would also not change.
Responding to popular demand, in 2016 the park is also joining www.recreation.gov, an online camping reservation system, which will allow people to make their own reservations and print their camping permits without coming to the park visitor center.
There will be a new $10 per reservation fee for this service.
Appropriated funding for the Apostle Islands, like at other national parks, has not kept up with either inflation or the cost of operations.
Over the past few months park managers analyzed recreation fees across similar units of the National Park System, as well as conducted comparisons with state and local park facilities with similar services.
The proposed fees will bring Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in alignment with, and in most cases still less than, fees charged at comparable areas providing similar services.
The fee increases are also part of a national effort to improve the condition of parks for the agency’s centennial anniversary in 2016, and beyond.
The park has fewer staff, but more visitors, than it did a decade ago.
“We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Krumenaker. “Almost all of the revenue from these fees stays here at the Apostle Islands, and is used to fund visitor services and infrastructure repair and improvements that directly affect the visitor experience. The park’s deferred maintenance backlog is $8 million and we’re committed to nibbling away at this to the best of our ability.”
Fee revenue only covers about 3% of the park’s operating costs.
By increasing efficiencies and keeping the cost of collection roughly constant, however, the proposed changes would have a major positive benefit.
Net fee revenue is projected to increase by approximately 54%, to about $93,000/year, that would be invested in park projects and services.
After the cost of collection is subtracted, this would result in a 73% increase in funding for projects.
Fee revenue in recent years has provided funds to begin the restoration of the Twilite, the historic fishing tug at Little Sand Bay.
It has funded the park rangers providing guided tours at the Raspberry Island Lighthouse.
This fall, a new trail bridge will be installed across a ravine on the Lakeshore Trail in the park’s mainland unit using fee revenue.
Additional revenue raised by a fee increase would make a big difference on trail and campground maintenance, repair the amphitheater at Stockton – Presque Isle, rehab the Otter Island dock, and improve accessibility in many places in the non-wilderness areas of the Apostle Islands.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2014, more than 290,000 park visitors contributed $54 million to the local economy and supported over 700 local jobs related to tourism.
“We invite everyone to comment on these proposed fee increases” Superintendent Krumenaker said. “Public participation is vital to the NPS planning and decision making processes. We hope people will look at these fees in context, particularly in light of the overall cost of an Apostle Islands vacation and the benefit to the park experience that the additional revenue will permit”.
For those unable to come to one of the meetings, comments will be accepted electronically at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/apisfees or by mail to:
Proposed Fee Increase
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
415 Washington Ave.
Bayfield WI 54814
The park also welcomes comments and discussion on its Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/apostleislandsnationallakeshore.
Comments must be received by September 20, 2015.
Following the meetings and analysis of the comments, a recommendation on fee increases will be developed and submitted to the National Park Service Washington D.C. office for final review and action.