Indiana Dunes National Park could begin charging entrance fees by March 31, 2022, after having been free of cost for over 50 years, the park announced.
If the proposal is approved, the fees would include a $15 charge per person whether walk-in, bike-in or boat-in, a $20 motorcycle pass, a $25 seven-day vehicle pass, a $45 Indiana Dunes National Park Annual Pass and a $100 commercial fee for a motor coach.
The National Park Service established an entrance fee structure in 2006 in order to standardize them across parks of similar types.
As it stands, the 15,000-acre park falls under a Group 2 categorization, meaning it has a lower entrance fee. National parks that fall under this group are either national seashores, national recreation areas, national monuments, national lakeshores and national historic parks.
As a national park, Indiana Dunes would typically fall within Group 3 or 4; but due to its location near a large urban population, it was placed in Group 2, which has a lower entrance fee, the park spokesperson said in a statement.
The dunes park needs new revenue because of overdue maintenance issues, Supt. Paul Labovitz in a statement
According to Labovitz, the park has more than a $40 million backlog of maintenance issues.
“The value of public open spaces has been underscored during the COVID pandemic,” said Labovitz. “Here at Indiana Dunes National Park, we are looking ahead anticipating what our park needs to tune up existing facilities as well as considering future enhancements and new amenities to better serve our visitors. Our visitation has increased dramatically in the past couple of years. Specific changes on the horizon include intelligent transportation technology to provide visitors with trip planning tools including real-time parking availability at many or all the National Park Service parking lots. We’d also like to be a partner in completing the missing segments of the Marquette Greenway that will connect Michigan and Illinois via a multi-use trail. The new fee program will provide additional and needed financial resources to address our maintenance, public safety, and programming needs. We welcome your comments on our proposal.”
Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the area, the park will hold an online public meeting via Zoom instead of meeting in person.
The meeting will be held on Aug. 18 from 6 to 8 p.m.
The meeting can be accessed here. To enter the meeting, the password will be: 074744.
Comments will also be accepted online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ or by email.
For more information, visit https://www.nps.gov/indu/index.htm