by Max Brantley
Establishing a fee was identified in the park’s 2007 business plan as a strategy to generate additional revenue streams for the national park and further explored in 2015 when NPS managers nationwide were given the go ahead to seek public input to determine the viability of increasing or establishing fees in order to keep up and in some cases enhance the visitors’ experience at the national park.
“Locally we proposed to increase the nightly campsite fee for developed campsites at the Gulpha Gorge Campground and to establish a fee at the Museum,” Fernandez said. The proposal was extensively publicized in a variety of news outlets throughout the region, with public notices and in the park’s website and Facebook page and the overall consensus received was positive.
In May 2015, the fee for campsites which offer water, electricity and sewer hook-ups increased from $24 to $30 per night. The fee for “primitive” sites remained at $10.
But the implementation of a $5 fee for adults at the Museum was deferred until October 2016 to allow for sufficient time to work out the logistics of separating the visitor service activities and moving them out of the Fordyce Bathhouse to another location on Bathhouse Row.
“Establishing a fee at the Fordyce required much more deliberation and after much discussion, the return on investment for the costs associated with setting up cash registers, etc., and hiring people to collect the fee, far outweigh the benefit of the projected revenue,” Fernandez explained. “In the end it was a verybusinesslike decision to make.”
“We conducted an in-depth financial feasibility study and staffing strategies to make our decision and determined that the museum entrance fees collected would not sustain the required costs incurred by additional personnel and administrative needs,” she said.