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WaPo: Park Service backing off dramatic price increases

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Tourists observe a herd of bisons at Yellowstone National Park on May 12, 2016. Yellowstone, the first National Park in the US and widely held to be the first national park in the world, is known for its wildlife and its many geothermal features. / AFP / MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)

The Trump administration is reconsidering its proposal to sharply increase entry fees at some popular national parks, including the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone, The Washington Post reported on Monday.

The proposal, unveiled in October, called for the increases to begin this spring, raising the per-vehicle entrance fee at 17 parks during peak season to $70 per vehicle. The current per-vehicle admission fee at those 17 parks is either $25 or $30.

But nearly all of the 100,000 comments received by the National Park Service on the plan were opposed to the plan, according to The Washington Post.

“$70 is insane!” read one comment the department shared with the Post.

Another said: “Having to pay $70 just to get in would definitely make me consider other options for our family vacation.”

The Park Service used a public comment submission website that does not make the submitted comments public. The Interior Department, which oversees the Park Service, did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.

An Interior official described by the Post as “familiar with the changes now being discussed” said it is likely fees will increase, but not as dramatically.

“Our ultimate goal when it comes to entrance fees is to make sure the parks get 80% of that revenue … but we also don’t want to put a burden on our visitors. We believe there is room to increase the fees and the annual passes,” the official said.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has said the fee increase would help the Park Service address a nearly $12 billion backlog of maintenance projects.

Opponents of the plan such as the National Parks Conservation Association say the Trump administration also proposed cutting funding for the Park Service in its budgets, and that the increase would address only a small fraction of the backlog. Such a steep increase could also “limit families’ ability to enjoy our parks” and hurt businesses that rely on park attendance, NPCA said.

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