Possible increase in state park fees

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The Black Hills is known for its beautiful state parks. To keep those parks up to par, they come with an entrance fee.

State park fees could be increasing sooner rather than later. (KEVN)

Those fees act as the primary funding for the parks and there could be an increase in prices sooner rather than later.

Harsh weather has hit the Black Hills hard over recent years, and some say it has also lead to a decrease in visitation at our state parks.

"When visitation numbers are down, revenue is down, and so we had to think of a way to offset those costs," said Custer State Park Visitor Services Program Manager Kobee Stalder.

Just last month, South Dakota's Game, Fish and Parks Commission proposed a plan to increase the fees on annual and daily passes at the State Parks.

"We're not just raising prices to raise prices. A lot of that does go to infrastructure needs. Repairing campgrounds, repairing roads," said Stalder.

Currently, annual passes are $30, but if approved, the price would go up to $36, while the cost for daily passes would increase from $6 to $8.

"We have that expectation where things to need to be in top condition. To be able to do that it, unfortunately, it does fall on the visitors, but it's a user-pay philosophy."

Stalder says they try to keep these costs away from visitors, but that isn't always possible.

"Keep those visitor expectations high quality. So that everybody gets the same high-quality visitor experience that they're used to getting."

The last time state park fees were raised was five years ago, to help with maintenance and infrastructure.

Now if the proposal is approved the increase in prices will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2020.