A bill that is currently moving though the US Congress (August, 2014) would restrict the sale of the $80. annual Interagency Federal Lands and Recreation pass, making it only available to US citizens and permanent residents. My friend and coleague, Kitty Benzar (president and spokesperson for the Western Slope No-Fee Colalition) just informed me about it.
Aside from national park entrance fees, there are an ever-increasing number of "access fees" on public land that are currently covered by the annual pass. As Canadians, we can't vote on this but it would affect us in a big way. We would be nickle-and-dimed to death on our next US tour!This bill would not only be bad for Canadians and other foreign travelers but I forsee negative repercusions for Americans as well.
Most travelers who purchase the federal pass are not tourists on a two-week holiday since the pass doesn't generally make economic sense unless you travel long and far enough to visit at least 4 or 5 national parks. Instead, they are visiting the USA for an extended period, contributing to the local economy in a big way and on many levels. Without the pass, they will also be less inclined to include the smaller national parks and historic sites, causing a significant drop in visitors, not only for those parks, but the nearby communities.
All this, at a time when the economy and price of fuel are already taking a toll on tourism. This proposal is very short-sighted.
Canada offers a similar annual pass, Parks Canada Discovery Pass, valid for entry at nearly 100 National Parks, Marine Conservation Areas, and Historic Sites across the country. While the cost is higher (unfortunately, everything in Canada seems to be), our pass is equally available to non citizens. Why? Because we WANT them to come! It only makes sense to encourage visitors to remain in our country a little longer and visit as many of our national treasures as possible.
I have contacted my (Canadian) federal member of parliament, alerting him to the bill and asking for his support in exerting pressure on the US government not to pass this. I urge all Canadians to do the same. Feel free to use my email (copied below) as an example.
I also plan to contact the governors of the US states where we tend to spend the most time visiting federal recreation areas and parks on our trips: Arizona, Utah, and California. I'll tell them how this change would impact the time and money we spend in those states.
Whether you are Canadian or American, an RVer or not, this change to the Interagency Federal Lands Pass will affect you. Please repost this on your social media networks. We need to spread the word and stop it!
Sent by email to my federal member of Parliament in Ottawa:
I want to make you aware of a horrible bill that is moving through the US Congress right now. This bill would restrict the sale of the $80 annual interagency federal lands pass to US citizens and permanent residents. Although we cannot vote on it, not being permitted to purchase this annual pass would affect us in a big way. We are retired and love to travel, regularly visiting national parks both in Canada and USA.
Our Canadian equivilent, the Discovery Pass, valid for entry at nearly 100 National Parks, Marine Conservation Areas, and Historic Sites, is equally available to Canadians and non citizens alike. Of course that makes sense - we WANT to encourage tourism from other countries!
I think this bill is very short-sighted. I ask you to bring the matter to Canadians' attention and add your voice to ours to object to it in any way that might affect its passing.
We'd love to hear your thoughts.
Click below to see comments from other visitors to this page...
In support of this restriction
I'm now a retired RVer and US Citizen and I support this bill. Why? Even before I retired there were many US National Parks I couldn't visit on vacations …
I too hope this bill does not get passed. We are Australian so would not be eligible for the pass which we use all the time. Unfortunately writing to our …