Sierra says Water Gap fee would hurt park and people

11 Dec 2019 | 12:25

The National Park Service plans to add a new entrance fee at the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area. The fee is one of many proposals to raise funds for improvements and maintenance at the park. Currently the nearly 70,000-acre national park, which sits in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, charges amenity fees at specific locations including Dingmans Access and Smithfield Beach, and group campsite fees at Rivers Bend and Valley View.

“The Delaware Water Gap is one of our most visited areas in New Jersey," said Jeff Tittel, Director of the NJ Sierra Club. "Putting an entrance fee to this park is not right, especially when close to 4 million people visit it each year, making it the top 10 visited National Parks in the nation. This is park is our Yosemite or Yellowstone National Park and a fee will hurt every person from enjoying it."

In addition to an entrance fee, which has yet to be established, also proposed is a park-specific 7-day pass; $25 per vehicle, $15 per person, and $20 per motorcycle, and a $45 annual pass.

“When you keep adding more fees to public parks, people will be priced out of our parks," he said. "When visitors want to visit the Delaware Water Gap for day, they will be charged for a $25 weekly fee...It is a lose, lose situation for the parks,” said Tittel.

The park service already charges some user-specific fees at areas such as Milford Beach or Dingmans Campground. But a site-wide entrance fee would be a first for the recreation area, created in 1975 after a federal government plan to build a dam at Tocks Island collapsed amid uproar over who should control the land and the river.