The National Park Service (NPS) is seeking public comments on McKinley/Foraker cost recovery special mountaineering use fee.
Currently, each climber of Mt. McKinley and Mt. Foraker pays a cost recovery special mountaineering fee of $200. The fee, which was increased from $150 to $200 in 2005, only covers 17% of the cost of this specialized program. Initially, the fee covered approximately 30% of the cost. The number of climbers, and park staff, have remained even since 2002 however, operational expenses have gone up significantly.
Income from the cost recovery fee offsets some of the cost of the mountaineering program. Costs recovered by the fee fund preventative search and rescue (PSAR) education, training for rescue personnel, positioning of patrol/rescue personnel (including volunteers) at critical high altitude locations on the mountain, the CMC (human waste) program and administrative support.
While McKinley/Foragker climbers make up less than 1/2 of 1 percent of the 378,000 visitors to the park in 2010, Denali will expend approximately $1,200 in direct support of each permitted climber in 2011. In contrast the average cost for all other visitors is expected to be about $37. The park has, in recent years, diverted funds from other critical park programs in order to fully fund the mountaineering program. This has a negative impact on funding available for programs such as wildlife protection, resource management, interpretation and maintenance.
The park is seeking input and ideas on two key questions:
1) Is the current mountaineering program the most cost effective, efficient and safe program we can deliver? and 2) How much of the cost should be recovered from users, and what options are there for how those costs can be distributed?
Comments from the public will be accepted between November 1, 2010 and January 31, 2011. Comments may be submitted via email to: DENA_mountainfeecomments@nps.gov or faxed to 907-683-9612. Written comments may be submitted by mail to: Superintendent, Denali National Park & Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali Park, AK 99755.
Public meetings to hear comments on the mountaineering and cost recovery program will take place in Talkeetna and Anchorage, Alaska in December and in Seattle and Denver early in January 2011. Dates and specific meeting locations will be announced in the near future. Denali Citizens Council will post the dates and locations as soon as they become available.
Additional information on the mountaineering program and cost recovery special use fee can be found on the park website at www.nps.gov/dena/