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FEES AREN'T ALLOWED, BUT REALLY THEY ARE

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Dear editor,
The Internet is a marvelous source of information, and it is open to so many that divergent views can be readily shared. It is, however, loaded with misinformation, either through ignorance or by design. The letter by Terry Conklin regarding the collection of fees at our National Park is an example of such misinformation. He purports a little-known fact that the collection of fees is totally unlawful. Perhaps it is so little-known because it is not factual.
Congress makes the laws in this case. The particular legislation which authorized 100 parks to institute a fee-collection program included a "notwithstanding clause." Now, I am not an attorney, but I have had courses in law and I paid attention in civics class many years ago. That particular clause effectively negates any other legislation which might be in conflict with it. So, in spite of the legislation which established the V.I. National Park including a prohibition against "entrance fees," the Park Service can and does legally collect "use fees" at Trunk Bay and the Annaberg ruins, as well as at numerous other parks included under this program.
With an annual use fee of only $10 and no charge for children 16 and under, it is hard to argue that the park is accessible only to the wealthy, as Mr. Conklin claims. I suggest that he cough up the $10 (or $15 if he wishes to include a family member) and stop creating needless work for the enforcement rangers who have to write the citations when the harried fee collector is subjected to his crusade. There are few enough enforcement rangers and more serious matters which require their attention.
Mr. Conklin proudly claims four tickets for violating the law while condemning the rangers for upholding it. That he so far has not been prosecuted may have more to do with the U.S. Attorney's workload and the severity of the crime than any legal loophole. If this is a true crusade, then let's see what the tolerance threshold is. Keep on going, and be sure to let us know how many tickets are required to bring the matter to trial.
John Fuller
Cruz Bay

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