An open letter to U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert and the rest of Washington's congressional delegation, and Governor Jay Inslee:
National Parks fee increase. America's worst idea?
How many of your constituents can afford to pay $70 to go to the park? How often will you go to the parks when it costs $70 to get in? Who is in favor of this increase – an unheard of amount to enter a park? Who benefits from a precipitous decline in visitors to the national parks?
Is the increase a thinly veiled attempt to lower park attendance as a justification for allowing fossil fuel and mineral exploration in our parks? It appears it is.
From "Trump Made It a Lot Easier for Oil Companies to Drill in National Parks" (http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2017/04/national-parks-oil-gas-drilling/): “Few people know  there is drilling going on in our national parks at all. Currently, there are 534 active oil and gas wells spread out among 12 national parks."
In late March, Trump signed his 19th executive order, titled "Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” which makes it easier for energy companies to drill in America’s national parks. Buried in the 2,300-word executive order is a sentence directing oilman Ryan Zinke, Trump's Secretary of the Interior, to review the rules which regulate oil and gas drilling in national parks and to repeal, suspend or rescind them if they are found inconsistent with the president’s energy goals.
All this is illegal.
President Ulysses S. Grant signed the Yellowstone Act into law in 1872, describing the “natural curiosities” and “wonders” that would be protected were “hereby reserved and withdrawn from settlement, occupancy, or sale … and dedicated and set apart as a public park or pleasuring ground for the benefit and enjoyment of the people; and all persons who shall locate or settle upon or occupy the same, or any part thereof, except as hereinafter provided, shall be considered trespassers and removed therefrom.”
Drilling for oil  in our national parks – is this America's worst idea?
Please do everything in your power to make certain this thinly veiled proposal to drill for oil in our national parks is rejected in perpetuity.  Footnote: Zinke served on the board of the oil pipeline company QS Energy from 2012 to 2015.

Phil Freeman
Mr. Freeman is an Ashford business owner