The current fees and restrictions in national parks are unfair. Over the last 60 years, annual park entry fees have increased from $6 to $70 and campground fees have increased from free to $25+ per night. For many travelers, these costs are restrictive. For car campers and van-lifers, options are even more limited. Fines for overnight parking can range from $70-$700+, even in the remotest locations. The Right to Explore is a social purpose corporation dedicated to eliminating unjust costs and restoring access to America's wilderness areas.
America's best idea, 84 million acres of jaw-dropping wilderness, comes at an unconstitutional cost. We believe that charging fees for public land visitation violates the 8th Amendment of the Constitution and the Public Trust Doctrine. America's federal lands were intended to be explored, protected, and cherished- not monetized. The United States Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior collect over $157 Billion in taxpayer funds each year to maintain our wilderness. We the people say NO MORE to unrealistic and unfair extra fees to enjoy the great outdoors.
There are less and less wilderness areas left that charge no fees. Even these places, few and far between in remote areas are being encroached upon by privatization. Adventurers from across the country are being forced away from our natural wonders as fees climb and restrictions burden campers.
Why is this important?
We are facing a crisis of outdoor recreation costs. In less than 5 years, we have seen costs increase by 40% in many of our public parks and natural spaces. At this accelerated rate, it won't be long before fewer and fewer Americans can afford to visit our outdoor spaces. Outdoor recreation is becoming a luxury instead of a right. What problems does this cause? With increasing costs comes decreased diversity. A 2011 survey of diversity in National Parks found that "only 1 in 5 visitors was non-white," and "less than 2% of visitors were African Americans." This statistic mirrored a 2000 survey despite a 6% minority growth in the United States over the same 11 year period. The same 2011 survey noted that "69% of Americans with household incomes of over $150,000 said they visited one or more national parks in the past two years, compared with only 22% of Americans with household incomes of less than $10,000." The National Park Service has conceded that there are significant barriers to entry for diverse groups, yet has only increased these barriers since conducting the survey. It is unfair to leave Americans behind. Every American deserves the right to explore their public lands as much as any other.
What do we do to help?
Our mission is to transform our public lands into free, public investments in the community and resist privatization that oversees ever-rising costs. While stopping a fast moving train may be difficult, it can be done one step at a time. Our funding- through fundraisers, our online store, social media promotions, and partnerships is necessary to influence change in this profit-driven political climate. Lobbying, mass organized movements, demonstrations, and boycotts are tools we have to our advantage to effect change for a fairer society. We seek to educate the public on the issues we face through social media campaigns, petitions, and outdoor educational opportunities. The most powerful asset it you: Your voice, your vote, and your choices that can effectuate all the change you desire and bring forth the future you deserve.