3 Visitors Sue NPS after Cash not Accepted as Entry Fee to 3 National Parks in New York, Georgia and Arizona

Three individuals file a lawsuit against the National Park Service for declining to take cash payments for park entrance fees. The individuals have initiated legal proceedings against the National Park Service, charging that its NPS Cashless program contravenes federal law by declining to accept currency payments for park entrance fees.

Earlier this month, a complaint was submitted to a federal court petitioning a judge to declare NPS Cashless in violation of the law. Three visitors were allegedly denied access to national parks in Arizona, New York, and Georgia, according to the lawsuit. The complaint further asserts that the “National Park Service no longer accepts American money at approximately twenty-nine national parks, national historic sites, national monuments, and national historic parks around the country.”

A NPS representative stated that the organization has no comment on litigation. As of yet, NPS has not provided an official response to the complaint. The deadline for a response is May 16, as per court records. To better manage those funds, the NPS has ceased cash payments at certain parks.

“Reducing cash collections allows the National Park Service to be better stewards of the fees collected from visitors,” according to the organization’s website. “Cashless options decrease the risk of theft and transaction times at crowded entrance stations.” The implementation of a contactless system yields several benefits, including enhanced accountability and consistency, decreased error rates, and increased funding availability for vital visitor services and projects.

Additionally, the website specifies that alternative options exist.

“Campaigns that have successfully implemented cashless fee collection in each park provide an alternative payment method for guests who lack the means to use a credit card or debit card.” As per the NPS, the precise arrangements may differ among parks; however, park personnel present at the location will be capable of providing assistance. “Most parks that have converted to cashless fee collection have had an overwhelmingly positive experience.”

According to the complaint, NPS Cashless is untenable.

Plaintiff’s attorney Ray Flores II stated in the complaint, “NPS’s violation of federal law cannot be overlooked in favor of any purported benefit NPS Cashless may hope to achieve, such as reducing the logistics of handling cash collected.” “Moreover, there is an increased cost to the NPS in going cashless, such as additional processing fees that will be borne by NPS and by visitors who ultimately fund the Federal Government through taxes, in addition to personal surcharges and bank fees visitors may incur under NPS Cashless policy.”

The legal action requests a judge “to restore entrance to NPS sites to those who cannot access non-cash payment methods (and those who choose not to) by declaring NPS Cashless to be unlawful.”

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The complaint contends that NPS Cashless “violates NPS’ mission to provide the public access to and enjoyment of the NPS parks, sites, and resources.”

108 of the more than 400 national parks comprising the National Park System charge an entrance fee, per the NPS.

“The current Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA) allows the National Park Service to collect and retain revenue and requires that fee revenue is used to enhance the visitor experience,” according to the fee website’s information. “At least 80% of funding from recreation fees stays in the park where it is collected, and the other 20% is used to benefit parks that do not collect fees or parks which generate only a small amount of revenue.”

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The National Park Service is in charge of 429 park units, 25 national scenic and historic trails, and 66 wild and scenic rivers, according to its budget justification for 2025. Not including supplemental funding, the request for $3.58 billion represents an increase of $101.1 million in comparison to the previous fiscal year.