New legislation would allow state parks to charge admission and parking fees

Click here for updates on this story

Lehighton, PA (WNEP) — State parks in Pennsylvania are free for everyone to enjoy, for now.

New legislation was just introduced that would allow state parks to decide whether they want to charge for parking and admission.

It was a sunny day at Beltzville State Park in Carbon County on Friday.

Rhoda Joine from Quakertown came with her kids.

She appreciates that the park is free for everyone.

“There’s some people that come here that love this place because it’s free and it’s really good for them because of their income,” Joine said.

But soon, it may not be free to come here.

State Representative Doyle Heffley from Carbon County introduced new legislation that would allow state parks to decide whether they want to charge a small admission plus parking fees.

“All of our border states charge fees at their state parks,” Rep. Heffley said. “I’m not looking to gouge people but just create a little bit of a funding stream so we can improve the condition and the experience for those people that want to visit the park.”

While state parks can charge fees for activities like launching a boating and swimming in pools, the law currently says that state parks cannot charge admission fees.

“This is strictly enabling legislation. They would not have to put it at, there are 120 state parks, they wouldn’t have to put it at every state park,” Heffley said.

Additional money from these proposed fees could allow parks to hire more staff, according to Heffley.

Beltzville State Park has seen its fair share of overcrowding issues this summer with cars lined up along the road to park.

More guests, unfortunately, meant more litter.

Margaret Lafiura spent her morning at the park picking up other people’s trash.

“We were cleaning it up this morning as we were walking along. I think it’s only we should do our part and do our part and pick it up as we walk along,” Lafiura said.

State parks are run by the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

It does not normally comment on proposed legislation, but it sent this statement to Newswatch 16.

“This department prides itself on providing wholesome, healthy outdoor recreation to all, which since the founding of Pennsylvania’s park system in 1893, has always been free. Our parks’ attendance numbers during the pandemic show people need that access.”

Heffley hopes to meet with other state legislators soon.

Please note: This content carries a strict local market embargo. If you share the same market as the contributor of this article, you may not use it on any platform.