On 'National Public Lands Day' all US National Parks are free (Saturday 9/22)

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/09/19/celebrate-national-public-land.html


Without wishing to criticise the US system, UK National Parks are always free.

And often crowded.

And UK National Parks aren’t all that similar to US NPs, really.

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Do they mean free to the public, or free to miners and developers?

(Normally I wouldn’t ask, but this isn’t normal.)


Warning: Parking will be a disaster at many of our popular parks.

Better skip Joshua Tree, unless you get to the gate at Sunrise, that’s what my Dear Wife and
I do.

I am surprised to hear that US parks aren’t free.

I, however, do wish to criticize this arrangement.

Most US National parks are free. There are 400+ parks and a little over 100 charge fees. Some just charge fees for some portion of the space. The Perry National monument, for example, is free if you’re just on the grounds or in the visitor center, but charges for access to the observation deck.

AFAIK, the ones that charge entry fees are generally the ones that are overburdened with people. It’s not fair to folks without much in the way of resources, but it’s one way to try to keep the parks from being loved to death. Haleakala National Park had to institute a signup and fee for sunrise viewing; people were driving up to the summit, parking anywhere they could (no matter if they blocked access roads or crushed native plants) and generally making a big mess. If you have the wherewithal to travel to one of these hyper-popular parks, usually in remote areas without much infrastructure (to preserve the natural setting), you shouldn’t quibble about forking over an extra $10-$30 to pay for upkeep, toilets, and rangers.

Many National Parks have free admission for people but charge an entry fee for vehicles. Of course in practice that’s almost the same thing if it’s a park that is difficult to reach any other way.

Just curious since they are just so aware of public lands. Does the Bundy clan get a reprieve on this day from any occupying they and their buddies might be doing? They do seem to prefer out of the way BLM land or Cowshit Natl Grasslands near Dry Desert, Nevada, so maybe it’s a moot point. Unless cattle grazing fees are also waived. That might save them about five bucks for their entire herd.

That’s an aspect of what I meant about UK and US NPs being rather different. Here, they’re 15 large regions of countryside with certain planning restrictions to preserve their essential nature, but they’re working landscapes containing towns and farms, not ‘pristine wilderness’. Nor are they individual sites like the Perry National monument; thing like that might exist inside NPs, but would be separately covered by different organisations, which are likely to charge admission.

So if I wanted to visit Scafell, England’s highest peak, there’d be no admission fee to access the Lake District National Park, but I’d have to pay the local landowner (which might be the National Park Authority in some instances) for parking and pay the local council for use of a public toilet.
And since there’s no restriction on access to the hill itself, I wouldn’t want to visit Scafell - I last climbed it in June 1996 and had to more-or-less queue up the main path.

Conversely, somewhere like Stonehenge isn’t a National Park nor in one, but there is a hefty admission fee.

I’m not sure whether I prefer the UK or US system - both have merits - but as a Brit, I did rather recoil from the idea that there’s a fee to merely enter a National Park.

I’m truly surprised Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke has allowed this socialist, freeloading occasion to continue to exist. I mean, what’s the purpose of letting the losers and the takers into American parks even for one day?

It’s OK. We’re resigned to living, for the moment, under a narcissist fascist tyrant. It’s embarrassing, sure. But look, talk to us in 2020, ok? We can do better. Btw, I think you meant “aren’t all that different from”? A park’s a park, no?

So, a park is not a park? What difference could there be?

EDIT: I stand corrected: a park is not a park!

No. :wink:
I meant that the US National Park system (and definition) is significantly different to the UK’s; I was kind of criticising myself for drawing a poor comparison!

A UK National Park is an entire region, containing towns (possibly with parks!), farms, commercial forestry, quarries etc. It’s an area in which certain planning regulations apply, rather than being a single ‘thing’; little of a NP is state-owned. Apparently ~41,000 people live in the Lake District National Park. There’s no gate at the entrance, and no set trails (there are public footpaths, but no requirement to keep to them on open moorland/mountains).

A US National Park (as I understand it) may be a government-owned ‘pristine wilderness’, with fairly tight restrictions (access quotas, set trails, etc.) or an individual monument. The Statue of Liberty is in the NP system, right? I suppose the rest of Liberty Island might be a park. :wink:

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