Researchers Say National Park Visitors Should Help Pay For Conservation Funding

Jan 28, 2021

Credit U.S. Air Force photo by Lan Kim

Funding for conservation projects on land adjacent to national parks like Yellowstone and Grand Teton continues to be in short supply.

These funds cover costs for livestock depredation, building highway crossing, and purchasing or leasing conservation easements and are usually paid for by local communities and their governments as well as the federal government.

A new research paper looks at two different solutions in which national parks visitors could contribute to conservation funding too. One option would be increasing sales tax or a lodging fee within national parks.

Or another option: "What if a fraction of the entrance fee that a park visitor pays at the gates to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park were dedicated under cooperative agreements to state and local conservation effort?" asked Arthur Middleton, co-arthur of the paper and a wildlife management policy expert at the University of California, Berkeley.

Middleton said the idea is to create sustainable conservation funding for the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.

"The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem has really been a model of thinking about ecosystem scale, large landscape conservation," said Middleton. "But ironically, the way that wildlife and resources are managed across boundaries, in terms of how that's governed and other partnerships, where and how it's funded, haven't always kept up with that vision."

The proposition to charge an extra entrance fee is not a new idea and has been supported in the Wyoming legislature. Montana's state legislature is currently looking at a similar resolution.