When the government shut down earlier this year, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt used revenues from visitor fees to keep national parks open. The decision was not without controversy.
For instance, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) called out the administration, saying that fee revenues are “not a slush fund” and should be reserved for improving parks and performing overdue maintenance.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office agreed with McCollum — the agency ruled that the Interior Department acted illegally by using fee collections to fund park operations.
No matter which side you agree with, the reality is that revenues from recreation fees have become an important part of national park budgets. With greater public lands needs than ever, the legal bickering over how fee revenues can be used demonstrates the need for clarity. Congress should explicitly grant public lands agencies more flexibility to use fee receipts for their greatest needs to make a lasting difference for our public lands.
Read the entire piece at The Hill.