HB 93: State Park Fees – 2021
ICL's position: Support
Current Bill Status: Law
Issue Areas: Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation, Public Lands
Rep. Doug Okuniewicz (R- Hayden) introduced a measure that would increase camping fees for nonresidents at Idaho state parks. Out-of-state visitors would pay twice as much as residents at a minimum of five parks. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation (IDPR) would have the ability to increase fees for out-of-state users at all state parks.
Rep. Okuniewicz discussed the increased number of visitors to Idaho parks and how difficult it can be for residents to reserve a campsite. In 2020, state parks recorded more than 1.2 million more visitors than the previous record, set in 2019, a nearly 18% increase! Millions of Idahoans and others flocked to our public lands as COVID-19 limited other recreation.
Campsite fees at Ponderosa State Park currently run about $37/night. If this bill passes, that would go up to $74/night for nonresidents. It is estimated that HB 93 would add $1.4 million in revenue, annually.
The goal of this bill is to ensure access for Idaho residents at state parks and campgrounds, however we recognize that even doubling existing campground fees may not deter out-of-state visitors, since camping fees make up a relatively small proportion of overall spending in the Gem State.
Regardless of the outcome of HB 93, we are pleased that the Idaho Legislature is considering appropriation of general funds to support IDPR and to improve facilities that will support increased visitation in the future.
As Idaho grows at a rapid pace, the increased pressure on state parks and other public lands will only increase, and we need to plan ahead.