CHICAGO (CBS) — The National Park Service is proposing to charge an entrance fee for Indiana Dunes National Park for the first time, as well as six new backcountry campsites and a group campsite near the beach, and is asking for public comment.

If approved, the entrance fees would begin on March 31, 2022:

  • Per person/walk-in/bike-in/boat-in rate: $15.00,
  • Motorcycle Pass: $20.00,
  • Seven-Day Vehicle Pass: $25.00,
  • Indiana Dunes National Park Annual Pass: $45.00
  • and Commercial Fee for a Motor Coach: $100.00.
READ MORE: Pair Charged In Murder Of 8-Year-Old Melissa Ortega Denied Bail; Accused Teen Gunman Committed Three Previous Carjackings, Prosecutors Say

The National Park Service will hold an online public meeting on the proposed entrance fees via Zoom next Wednesday, Aug. 18, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. central time.

To join the meeting, use this link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89748155060?pwd=S3E3c2tGS0c0VitNK0NVb1dxRWxFZz09 To enter the meeting, use this passcode: 074744. 

In addition to the public Zoom meeting, you can provide your comments online at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/ or by email at indu_communications@nps.gov. Comments submitted by phone or social media will not be accepted. Comments submitted by individuals or organizations on behalf of other individuals or organizations also will not be accepted. All comments are due by October 1.

Park officials said visitation at Indiana Dunes National Park has increased dramatically over the past couple years, and the new entrance fees will help provide revenue needed for maintenance, , public safety, and programming needs.

READ MORE: Chicago Weather Alert: Heavy Lake Effect Snow Possible Through Tomorrow Morning

“The value of public open spaces has been underscored during the COVID pandemic,” Park Superintendent Paul Labovitz said in a statement. “Here at Indiana Dunes National Park, we are looking ahead anticipating what our park needs to tune up existing facilities as well as considering future enhancements and new amenities to better serve our visitors.”

“Specific changes on the horizon include intelligent transportation technology to provide visitors with trip planning tools including real-time parking availability at many or all the National Park Service parking lots.  We’d also like to be a partner in completing the missing segments of the Marquette Greenway that will connect Michigan and Illinois via a multi-use trail,” Labovitz added.

In addition to the new entrance fees, the National Park Service is also proposing adding a group campsite in the Dunbar Beach area, and six backcountry campsites located approximately ¼ mile east of the Central Avenue Beach area.

“Unlike some true backcountry sites, visitors would be required to camp at specific sites at the Central Backcountry,” officials said in a news release. “These wooded camping spots are located on former house sites to reduce the impact to the park’s natural resources. The only services provided are a porta-potty at the Central Backcountry site and the Dunbar Group Site is within 50 yards of the Dunbar Beach restrooms.”

MORE NEWS: Bears Reportedly Hiring Colts Defensive Coordinator Matt Eberflus As New Head Coach

The backcountry campsites would cost $25 per night, with a limit of eight campers. The Dunbar group campsite would cost $100 per night, with room for up to 30 people.

CBS 2 Chicago Staff