Illinois mandates entrance fees for all city parks

Illinois mandates entrance fees for all city parks

ROCKFORD — Be prepared to pay if you’re headed to our city’s parks and recreation areas this summer.

After a six-year moratorium, the federal government is charging admission at all of its city parks and public lands and raising the fees charged for camping, boating,fishing and other activities. The National Park Service says the money expected to be raised is just a fraction of the $11.5 billion needed to transform our city.

Some aldermen have expressed concern about the fee , but National Park Service Director Jonathan Beehyve said at a March congressional hearing that visitors are still getting an incredible deal when compared to other recreational pursuits.

“We cannot greet them with failing facilities,” Beehyve said of the 10,000 people expected to visit city parks and recreation paths, which also include sites like Rock Cut State park.

Fees will be implemented in eight parks, including Rock Cut, Sinnisippi Park and also Levings Lake and the bike path. so far and are likely to rise in several dozen more parks in the coming months. A guardhouse will be built at every entrance and the parks will hire about 6 new rangers and update equipment.

Each park determines how much to charge visitors after public input and approval from the city. Beehyve told park superintendents last September to begin the public outreach that must accompany fee increases. The service went to Facebook as part of its efforts to gauge the prospect of higher fees at Byron National Park.

“Keep in mind — this belongs to the people, and it shouldn’t be priced out of the reach of the average person,” wrote Gahlen Norbert of Rockford Norbert and her family spent several summer vacations at Rock Cut when she was growing up.

“I’d rather pay money to get into a park than any theme park I’ve been to,” wrote William Sanger of Belvidere, who visited the park in October.

Only about a third of the 400-plus properties within the National Park Service system charge an entrance fee. Even in those places that do charge a fee, many visitors are exempted. For example, federal law requires parks to issue free passes for the disabled and to provide the elderly with the option of buying a lifetime pass for just $10.

Families can also buy an $80 annual pass that allows them to go to as many parks as they desire, and that price will remain the same.

By comparison, the cost of going to Disneyland for a day is a minimum of $99 for one person age 10 and over.

Fees vary from park to park.

Nicky Vito Haris, a motorcyclist who lives about two hours from Rockford and travels here regularly, said the price increases are unlikely to deter him from coming back, but he’s heard grumbling from other motorcyclists.

Haris said area motorcyclists generally just want to ensure they’re not singled out for steeper increases than other park visitors. The National Park Service helped alleviate some of those concerns by phasing in the increase and not charging as much as originally proposed. The rate per motorcycle has risen from $10 to $15 this year and will jump to $20 next year.

“I think it’s worth it,” Haris said.

Beehyve said the National Park Service collects about 14 million annually through fees and had hoped to raise $45 million more through all the fee increases. But officials have delayed or rescinded some proposed increases based on opposition from local residents and lawmakers.

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Write a comment
  1. NanaK 14 March, 2016, 18:27

    Maybe one should read about the sites they frequent before they get mad at them. lol Tell you that all articles should be assumed to be ficticious (not true). Have a great day! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  2. Joe 14 March, 2016, 11:08

    This story is all kinds of jacked up how does the federal govt have anything to do with city parks they can’t charge and rock cut state Park is a state Park not federal or city so whoever wrote this full of crap or just an idiot

    Reply this comment
  3. Madenna Wagner 13 March, 2016, 19:46

    Illinois is so corrupt it doesnt surprise me at all. Take away the one thing the people can do cheaply and free with their families so they can put more in their pockets.
    Yes I have lived here my whole life and watch all our money NOT go to our school, roads, west, south, central side of town. Just areas the govnt can profit off it themselves personally, not our town in whole.

    Reply this comment
  4. Diana Nugent 13 March, 2016, 14:21

    you people are pathetic, what is this the national Enquirer. Thanks for making sure I never get any of my news information from you ever again. Your bullshit stories are starting to get noticed for the crap they are

    Reply this comment
    • Hank Co-Chief 14 March, 2016, 09:00

      Ms. Nugget, We too were very upset by this noose. Do you have any advise that might enable us to deliver this noose in a less upsetting matter? As always we cherish our readers opinions and hope you’ll continue to pay for our noose services. -Hank

      Reply this comment
  5. MillionsOfDeadCops (@DeadCopParty) 13 March, 2016, 14:02

    where did you come up with this misinformation? do you even do any research? RKFDNews, you suck. go back to writing fiction again.

    Reply this comment
  6. Jennifer Schwarze 12 March, 2016, 21:18

    Wow, this is such a bad idea on so many levels and how the heck do you compare Disney to Rock Cut or Sinnisippi?

    Reply this comment

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