ONLINE FIRST: National park eyes entrance fee increases

A day trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park could cost $5 more in 2015.

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A day trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park could cost $5 more in 2015.

The park is considering a plan to increase its entrance fees incrementally during the next few years.

Under the proposal, an annual pass would increase from $25 to $50 in 2017 and vehicle fees would increase from $10 to $15 in 2015, to $20 in 2016 and to $25 in 2017.

Fees for walk-ins and bicyclists would increase incrementally from $5 to $12 by 2017. Fees for motorcycle riders would increase from $5 to $20 by 2017.

The park also would begin charging $10 for a camping permit. Camping is currently free except at Namakanipaio Campground.

The fee increases would be the park’s first since 1997.

“While we are committed to keeping the park affordable for everyone, we are also dedicated to providing the safest and most enjoyable experience for our visitors and community,” park Superintendent Cindy Orlando said in a press release. “Entrance fees are vital to support the numerous services and amenities that make the visitor experience possible.”

According to the park, entrance fees are used toward fencing projects to protect plants from pigs and goats, trail maintenance, cabin repairs, hike pamphlets, restrooms, picnic tables and other projects, including transforming the 1932 administration building into a cultural museum.

Commercial tour companies also could pay more under the proposal.

Tour vans carrying up to six passengers now pay a $25 base fee and $5 per person to enter the park. Per-person entrance rates would increase to $8 in 2015, $10 in 2016 and $12 in 2017.

The deadline for comments on the proposed fee increases is Dec. 15.

Comments can be submitted online at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/havo.

Comments also can be submitted by mail if addressed to: Superintendent, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718.

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Comment cards are available at the Kilauea Visitor Center, as well.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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