Public comment sought on fee increase for Organ Pipe National Mo - Tucson News Now

Public comment sought on fee increase for Organ Pipe National Monument

Organ Pipe National Monument. (Source: National Park Service) Organ Pipe National Monument. (Source: National Park Service)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

For the first time since 2014, in order to meet the National Park Service (NPS) fee structure that was updated in that same year, Organ Pipe National Monument (NM) is proposing to increase the park's entrance and camping fees. An amenity fee for the Ajo Mountain Drive van tour is also proposed. 

The proposed fees increase will be the first for Organ Pipe Cactus NM since 2005, with the exception of a partial implementation of the 2014 NPS fee structure when the monument's backcountry reopened in 2015. To bring the Monument's fee structure in line with the NPS from 2014, the park is soliciting public input.

"The increase in fees would allow the park to continue to protect, preserve, improve facilities and services and share the special places here at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument with current and future visitors," said Acting Superintendent Rijk Morawe, in a recent news release. "Increasing the fees will bring the park into compliance with the current Nation-wide National Park Service fee structure and address many unfunded needs to improve the overall visitor experience."

Owners of valid Federal passes such as the Senior Pass, Access Pass, Military Pass, and other America the Beautiful Annual Passes are admitted free of charge under the established guidelines. These passes will continue to be available and honored at the park. 

Proposed fee increase listed in chart below:


Organ Pipe Cactus NM is one of the 120 units, out of 417 in the NPS that collect an entrance fee. The NPS units across the nation that charge entrance fees are organized into four different groups based on the type of park and services offered.  This proposed fee change is consistent with other National Monuments that are grouped with Organ Pipe Cactus NM, such as Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument and Wupatki National Monument.  
 
Entrance fees at Organ Pipe Cactus NM are used to improve accessibility, rehabilitate trails and trail signs, develop new exhibits for the Kris Eggle Visitor Center, update interpretive wayside signs, and replace shade ramadas at picnic areas and install new picnic areas with shade structures. Recently, fees were used to upgrade the Alamo Canyon Campground to make it wheelchair accessible. Upcoming projects include: Construct accessibility walkways, replace two shade ramadas, replace and update trail and interpretive signs at several  trails, remove encroaching vegetation from Quitobaquito Pond, repair and preserve the historic Gachado Ranch House, and repair asphalt parking lots. 
 
Beginning this fall, reservations for the Twin Peaks Campground will be made using Recreation.gov. The increased camping fees will help defray the cost for the service and convenience of on-line booking.
 
The park is also proposing a new $5 charge, an amenity fee for the Ajo Mountain Drive van tours that are typically offered January through March, from the Kris Eggle Visitor Center. Currently, visitors are invited to sign up in advance for this popular three-hour tour that is free of charge. The tour can accommodate up to ten visitors and is led by a member of the park staff. If this $5 fee is adopted, the money would be used to offset park expenses for the tour.
 
Comments concerning this proposed increases may be made through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment (PEPC) website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ORPI_Fees from June 20, through July 19, 2017.  

The title is labeled "Proposed Increase of Fees " and is listed as #73448. 

Access to PEPC may also be found at the park’s webpage http://www.nps.gov/orpi/, on its Facebook page, on a comment form at the Kris Eggle Visitor Center, or mailed to Organ Pipe Cactus NM, Attention: Superintendent, 10 Organ Pipe Dr., Ajo, AZ, 85321. Mailed responses should be post marked by July 6, 2017.

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