- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) - Visitors may have to begin paying more to see the ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

The National Park Service, which operates the park in northern Wisconsin, has proposed a $5 special recreation fee to see the Lake Superior wonder, the St. Paul Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1wbdeZk ) reported. The current $3 fee for parking at the trailhead lot amounted to $47,000 in revenue, only a fraction of what it cost to manage about 138,000 visitors last year, according to the agency.

The proposed permit fee would allow the park service to provide sufficient staff and infrastructure during open ice caves season, although it wouldn’t cover all of the associated costs, the park service said Wednesday in a press release.

“We are committed to keeping the park affordable but we also want to provide visitors with the best possible experience while not overburdening our partners,” said Chris Smith, acting superintendent of the park.

The park service plans to hold two open houses this month, one in Ashland and the other Bayfield, where the new fee will be discussed and members of the public will be able to voice their comments.

Because of ideal weather last winter, the lakeshore’s mainland sea caves were open for the first time since 2009, when they saw fewer than 10,000 visitors. The unexpected throngs of people brought in nearly $10 million in revenue throughout the local communities, according to the park service.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com


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