Proposal would increase Volcanoes Park fees
Funds are needed for improvements, park officials say
HILO » Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is proposing to double its entrance fee Jan. 1 to $20 a car, part of a national program to raise fees for improvements.
Reaction was mixed.
"I'm opposed to it," said Big Island Mayor Harry Kim. "I would hope (the park) would be free."
"I don't like it," said Councilman Bob Jacobson, whose district surrounds Volcanoes and the Puuhonua O Honaunau park.
VOLCANOES PARK FEE INCREASE PLAN
To take effect Jan. 1:
» Cars: $20 (up from $10)
» Motorcycles: $15 (up from $10)
» Bicyclists and pedestrians: $10 (up from $5)
» One-year, three-park pass: $30 (up from $25)
Comments on the proposal can be e-mailed to HAVO_Superintendent@nps.gov or mailed to P.O. Box 52, Hawaii National Park, HI 96718.
But some commercial tour operators, who would not be immediately affected, supported the idea.
"I don't think that's a big fee increase at all. You've got to work with these people to understand what the problems are," said Doug Arnott, who takes tours to the lava area.
"It's very expensive to maintain the park. Fees are unfortunate but necessary," said Betsy Morrigan, who runs a kayak service and is past president of E Mau Na Ala Hele trails group.
Volcanoes superintendent Cindy Orlando said a national consultant proposed uniform fees at the beginning of this decade.
Earlier, the Volcanoes fee went to $10 from $5 a car, and $20 is the next step, she said.
Large buses, not scheduled for an increase, pay $4 a passenger.
The $20 fee has already been proposed for Haleakala on Maui without a "backlash," she said. Negative comments could change the proposal at Volcanoes, she said.
Volcanoes keeps 80 percent of its admission money. Recent projects from the funding are a 1-mile paved trail at Sulphur Banks area, a new campground at Kulanaokuaiki, and plantings of the endangered Mauna Loa silversword, the park said.
Kim said higher fees are the result of improper priorities in the national budget. Increases will be "counterproductive," he said. Some residents already feel they are being restricted from natural and cultural resources that belong to them, he said. Native Hawaiians can enter the park free, but only if the are engaged in traditional cultural practices.
Paul Campbell of the Big Island chapter of the Sierra Club said the fees will hurt local users the most. The Sierra Club gives free tours in the park but will probably have to end that, he said.
Other proposed fee changes are $15 for motorcycles, up from $10; $10 for bicyclists and pedestrians, up from $5; and $30 for a one-year, three-park pass, up from $25.