Federal and state agencies are struggling to pay for much needed maintenance and conservation on public lands so they’re turning to things like park fees and hunting permits to raise the cash.
It has been a while since Colorado Parks and Wildlife raised recreational permits and park entrance fees. In that time, expenses have skyrocketed.
Lauren Truitt, Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman, says expenditures like the cost of feeding fish in 19 hatcheries and the cost of managing the land in the state's parks has been exceeding the agency's budget, most of which comes from user fees. The department needs legislative approval to raise those prices, and this week, Colorado’s State Senate unanimously passed a measure to do just that.
Truitt says population growth in the west is putting extra pressure on public lands.
"The agencies in charge of managing these resources," says Truitt, "are feeling the pressure of making sure that we're balancing wildlife and habitat need versus human recreation need."
Truitt says the extra money would fund a backlog of maintenance needs for dams, fisheries and hiking trails.
In Wyoming, Governor Matt Mead just approved a resolution for further discussion about raising fees in that state’s iconic Yellowstone National Park.
This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.