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NPS Fee Demonstation Program




For Immediate Release Sandi Perl (520) 638-7885


Effective February 1, 2000, Grand Canyon National Park's fee for overnight backcountry permits will change. The new price for these permits will be $10, plus $5 per person for each night camped "below the rim" and $5 per GROUP for each night camped "above the rim". Camping fees at the "developed" campgrounds, including Mather, North Rim and Desert View are not affected by this revision.

Grand Canyon National Park began charging backcountry permit fees in January of 1997 under the direction of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program authorized by Congress in 1996. The revenue generated by this program was designated to stay within the National Park Service, and backcountry fee revenue was earmarked for use in funding upgrades to visitor/hiker services, and a variety of resource protection and rehabilitation projects. At this three year anniversary, Grand Canyon took the opportunity to re-examine the fee structure and make needed adjustments.

When Grand Canyon National Park initiated the program in 1997, backcountry permits cost $20 plus $4 per person/per night. A single person on a one-night trip paid a much higher average cost per night than members of larger groups on longer trips. This inequity has now been drastically reduced. Although the cost for some group permits will increase slightly, no one will experience an increase of more than $1 per person/ per night.

The implementation of this revised fee structure will result in a savings for approximately 71% of backcountry visitors. The revision will result in a minor 3.5% reduction in the annual backcountry fees collected, however, the park has determined that maintenance costs, especially for above rim backcountry projects, require less time and resources than our below rim projects. Subsequently, the park felt it was appropriate to pass the savings back to our visitor.

Grand Canyon National Park's backcountry fees are currently funding many improvements and projects important both to the canyon and to visitors. Over the next few years, seventy-one miles of backcountry trails will be rehabilitated. A frequently visited archeological site is being stabilized. Crews have been working to replant and restore heavily impacted areas. A project to construct part of the Arizona Trail on the North Rim has been completed. Backcountry outhouses are being serviced more often and several replaced. Backcountry Office hours, phone lines, staffing, training, equipment, and services have been upgraded to achieve an 80% quicker response time to visitor requests for information and permits. A video program for educating hikers has been initiated, and a Preventative Search and Rescue Program has been established and credited with helping reduce the number of visitor related injuries on canyon trails. These and other projects have been undertaken to help improve hiker safety and services, and mitigate hiker impacts on trails and in campsites. Backcountry permit fees have made all this possible.

Hikers who purchased more expensive advanced permits under the old fee structure for backcountry permit dates after February 1, 2000 will receive "hiking credit" for the amount they would have saved under the revised fee structure. This "hiking credit" will be valid for one year toward the cost of future Grand Canyon backcountry permits. Similarly, those who saved money through purchasing advanced permits under the old fee structure will not have to pay the difference unless an alteration of the permit is requested. Backcountry hikers may still purchase a one-year frequent hiker membership for a reduced price of $25 from the previous $50 cost and it will still be valid for twelve months from the date of purchase. Permit cancellations will incur a $10 cancellation fee rather than the previous $20 cancellation fee. All fees paid to the Backcountry Office continue to be non-refundable.

For additional information about general park information and backcountry permits, please call 520-638-7888 or 520-638-7875 between the hours of 1:00 and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, or visit our web sites at www.nps.gov/grca/ or www.thecanyon.com/nps/.

January 31, 2000

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