A big change is proposed for a National Park in our area.
All park users of the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area may soon be charged a fee.
But first that proposal is up for public review and comment.
We spotted Bob and Helen Riedel of Delaware at Smithfield Beach today taking pictures of birds. They were shocked to hear they could be paying a fee in the future to do the same thing.
We couldn’t find anyone who liked the proposed overall Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Park entrance fee of 25 dollars for a car and 20 dollars for a motorcycle. A seven day pass would be 15 dollars and a seasonal pass would be 45 dollars.
The Renegade Winery Co-Founder Dennis Ball says, "The fee I think is actually going to hurt the economy more than anything, especially the little town of Milford up at the top end. People commute back and forth to our winery, all over actually, there’s 12 wineries down at this end of the park."
Visitor Cheryl Godbey from Kentucky says, "It’s a National Park, that’s what taxes go for."
Visitor Carol Barrett from Allentown says, "That means people who don’t have 25 dollars don’t get to share that beauty that I think belongs to all of us."
But we’re told the public has helped develop the draft of the Visitor Use Management Plan over the past five years where this fee is one of the many proposals. People also haven’t been deterred from using the six areas of the park that currently have an amenity fee.
Park Spokeswoman Kathleen Sandt says, "Right now we see damage to our resources from visitor impacts in some areas and so we want to improve those things and prevent that from happening."
We’re told the fees would be used for improvements to the park such as bigger picnic areas and better access to the river.
Ball says, "I’ve actually worked with the government and there’s plenty of money there, there’s so much waste within it, it’s astronomical."
Godbey says, "I think 25 dollars is too much."
Barrett says, "I’m thinking maybe there’s a better way to raise money to do that."
The plan is available for comment and review through December 6th. You can share your feedback online, through the mail or at a public hearing for PA residents scheduled for October 24th from 6-8PM at Bushkill Volunteer Fire Company Hall.