Nonresident park entry fee increase clears first round

A bill that would increase state park entry fees for nonresidents advanced from general file April 29.

Sen. Dan Hughes
Sen. Dan Hughes

As introduced by Venango Sen. Dan Hughes, LB336 would require the state Game and Parks Commission to create “regular” and “limited” annual and temporary nonresident motor vehicle permits.

Most of the additional revenue from the new permits would be designated to help defray operational, maintenance and improvement costs at Lake McConaughy State Recreation Area and Lake Ogallala State Recreation Area.

A Natural Resources Committee amendment, adopted 35-0, instead would set the annual permit for a nonresident motor vehicle at twice the fee for a resident motor vehicle or $60, whichever is greater.

It would set the fee for a temporary permit for a nonresident motor vehicle at twice the fee for a resident motor vehicle or $12, whichever is greater.

The committee made the change after it became apparent that having two types of nonresident permits would have been a “logistical nightmare” for the commission, Hughes said. The original, higher proposed fees also would have resulted in the loss of certain federal funding, he said.

Hughes said Lake McConaughy and Lake Ogallala are among Nebraska’s top tourist attractions, drawing tens of thousands of out-of-state visitors on certain holiday weekends. The fee increase would allow the commission to hire additional law enforcement officers and build facilities that can handle the large number of visitors, he said.

The amendment, unlike the original bill, would not direct the commission to use the additional revenue for improvements at the two lakes, Hughes said, but the commission has indicated that it would.

Senators voted 37-0 to advance LB336 to select file.

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