Implications of the National Park Service Recreation Fee Demonstration Program for Park Operations and Management: Perceptions of NPS Managers


  • Richard S. Krannich
  • Brian W. Eisenhauer
  • Donald R. Field
  • Cristina Pratt
  • A. E. Luloff


National Park Service, Recreation Fees, Park Management, Management Impacts


Implementation of the Recreation Fee Demonstration Program by the National Park Service (NPS) and other federal land management agencies has the potential to affect not only the experiences of visitors and visitation patterns, but also the management and operation of local units participating in the program. The analysis presented here reports results of a mail survey of administrative personnel responsible for Fee Demonstration Program management at 109 NPS units that were participating in the program in 1997. Results indicate that NPS managers generally perceived positive effects of the program on operations at their units during the first year of program activity. Very few unit managers perceived any adverse effects on visitation, and most reported either positive or neutral responses from both visitors and local-area residents and organizations. Nearly all of the managers reported positive effects on their units' budgetary situation, and most indicated that they were satisfied with the approach used by NPS to allocate fee program revenues. About onefourth of managers indicated problems with program administration that they perceived as originating at the local-unit level. A similar number of managers perceived problems that they attributed to regional-level administration, while nearly half perceived problems attributed to national-level NPS administration. Examination of variables reflecting varying park contexts indicates that perceptions of program effects are associated with differences in visitation levels and patterns, unit type, and regional location. Such differences suggest that changes in fee program requirements and procedures may be needed to fully address the specific needs and objectives of individual park units.





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