September 27, 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee oversite hearing on Encouraging the Next Generation to Visit National Parks, Senator Angus King (I-Maine) and Angela Fultz Nordstrom, Vice President of Digital at NIC, a provider of digital government services, a witness before the committee, underscored the success of a King-backed National Park Service (NPS) pilot program that made entrance passes for parks available online.
“I can tell you exactly how long it takes…it takes almost exactly the length of a Steve Daines speech to download a park pass,” said Senator King. “One of the reasons I was so pushy about this…is I think we’re leaving money on the table – at least in some national parks – of people that are willing and want to buy passes but it’s awkward where you get them, how you get them, whether you really need them, and this is a way that… can be a significant revenue producer for the parks.”
Senator King is a longtime advocate for a process that allows National Park passes to be purchased online. As a method of displaying the ease of navigation for this new system, Senator King used his phone to purchase a pass for Acadia National Park during introductory remarks from Senator Steve Daines (R-MT), Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on National Parks.
“The National Park Service ePass pilot came about at the urging of U.S. Senators Angus King and Susan Collins of Maine,” said witness Angela Fultz Nordstrom, Vice President of Digital at NIC, a provider of digital government services. “By all accounts, the National Park Service pilot has been a success and the agencies should be commended for their efforts. The objective of the pilot was to test the premise that people were open to purchasing digital park passes. The answer to this question is absolutely, yes.”
Acadia National Park was the first of group of seven National Parks to participate in electronic pass sales, and has seen the most success from the effort. Online pass sales to Acadia National Park accounted for 72% of the pilot’s total sales, and 10% of Acadia National Park’s total entrance fee receipts in 2016 came from this program.
The pilot program to modernize the way national park was launched in February 2016, following continued pressure from Senator King in committee hearings and a letter from Senators King and Collins to the U.S. Department of the Interior and NPS.