It’s a good time to think about this, when at least one Presidential candidate (sigh.. does the silly season have to start so early?) wants to make National Park visits free. Another idea (not proposed by any candidates that I know of) would be to charge non-residents more, as they are not paying taxes for the parks (and to discourage plane travel and other carbon-using aspects of international tourism?).
Here’s a link to the report, authored by Tate Watkins of PERC. I think the basic point is that funds that are dependent on users are invariant to partisan bickering and suchlike, so are more dependable and also as visitation goes up, the relevant funding would go up directly.
For the Parks:
More recently, after nearly three decades of relatively flat visitation that began in the late 1980s, visits to the park system have surged since 2013, increasing by 16 percent in just five years. The uptick is likely due to various factors, including the park service’s centennial celebration in 2016 as well as the rise of outdoor recreation generally. In 2016 and 2017, systemwide visitation reached all-time highs of nearly 331 million visits, before falling to 318 million visits in 2018. Even with the overall decline last year, 28 individual sites set new visitation records.
Not specifically mentioned in the report is increased international tourism to US Parks, discussed here . It’s a little confusing because sometimes they are talking about totals, and sometimes about percentages of international travelers who visit Parks and Monuments.
And about the Forest Service:
The Forest Service manages more than 190 million acres of land for multiple uses such as timber management, livestock grazing, wildlife and fish habitat, and recreation. National forests provide ample outdoor recreation opportunities, from hiking, biking, and horseback riding to hunting, dirt biking, and camping. The Forest Service manages approximately 30,000 developed recreation sites nationwide. The agency faces a deferred maintenance backlog of its own of nearly $5.5 billion, including $279 million in unfunded trail repairs.
According to visitor surveys conducted by the agency, visitation to national forests has remained relatively steady over the past decade. In 2016, there were an estimated 148 million recreation visits to national forests.
That (has remained relatively steady) does not match my observations. Maybe some places are going down in use, other places are increasing and the average is the same? Maybe NVUM is not accurate? What are you all’s observations?