Millions of visitors to Acadia National Park this summer are going to have to pay a little more to enjoy its carriage roads, lakes, ponds and panoramic views from the tallest mountain on the Atlantic coast.

A park spokesman said the new fee schedule, which will impact vehicles, bicyclists, pedestrians, and campers, is scheduled to take effect May 1.

John Kelly said 80 percent of the revenue generated by the increase in admission and use fees will stay in Maine and be spent on maintenance of Acadia’s carriage roads, visitor centers and in support of the Island Explorer – a propane-fueled bus system that since 1999 has transported millions of people across Mount Desert Island and through the 47,000-acre park.

Acadia National Park, which opened on Jan. 19, 1929, is one of the most visited parks in the National Park Service system, with more than 2 million visitors each year.

“Nearly all the money (from increased fees) will remain at Acadia,” Kelly said. “The funds are not going to another park, or to pay off the federal deficit.”

Acadia National Park began holding public meetings last fall to discuss potential fee increases for 2015.

The increases are the result of the National Park Service lifting a six-year moratorium on raising admission fees to public lands, according to The Associated Press. The higher fees will cover just a fraction of the $11.5 billion needed to repair and maintain roads, trails and park buildings across the national park system, officials said.

Though some members of Congress have expressed concern about raising access fees, National Park Service director Jonathan Jarvis said at a congressional hearing in March that visitors are still getting an incredible deal when compared to other recreational pursuits. Fees have increased at Yosemite National Park and are likely to increase at several dozen more parks this year, according to The Associated Press.

“I’d rather pay money to get into Yosemite than any theme park I’ve been to,” William Sanger, of Berwick, told The Associated Press.

The price of going to Disneyland for a day is a minimum of $99 for one person 10 years of age or older.

Officials at Acadia National Park said park entrance fees, which have been locked in at $20 for a seven-day vehicle pass, have remained unchanged since 2004.

Acadia National Park said the increase in a seven-day vehicle pass to $25 is just one way to allow park managers “to invest in the improvements necessary to provide the best possible park experience for its visitors.” Acadia officials said the revenues will also be used to prepare for Acadia’s centennial celebration in 2016.

Fees for camping at Acadia’s two campgrounds – Blackwoods and Seawall – will also increase this year. Camping fees have not gone up in more than a decade. A walk-in tent site fee for instance will increase from $14 to $22 per night, and the fee for a tent or small RV site will go from $20 to $30 a night.

The park is also planning on opening a new campground this fall on what is known locally as the quiet side of Acadia National Park.

Kelly said that Schoodic Woods Campground, which is three miles southeast of Winter Harbor on the Schoodic Peninsula, will open Sept. 1.

Public facilities at the new campground will include 92 camping sites for tents and RVs, an amphitheater, parking for 100 vehicles, seven miles of bicycle paths and four miles of hiking trails.

Kelly said that last year the park began posting signs and fliers reminding visitors to pay a park-use fee, whether entering the park via the gated park loop road or driving to the summit of Cadillac Mountain.

Kelly said park officials are hopeful that their efforts to educate the public about the park and the importance of maintaining its natural attractions will result in greater revenue collections.

The fees that will take effect May 1 are:

The annual Acadia National Park pass fee will increase from $40 to $50.

 The fee for a seven-day vehicle pass will increase from $20 to $25.

 The fee for a seven-day motorcycle pass will be $20 per bike. In the past, the park has charged $20 for each person riding on a motorcycle.

 The fee for a seven-day individual pass will increase from $5 to $12.

 Group camping fees will increase from $50 to $60 a night.

 


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