PADRE ISLAND NATIONAL SEASHORE, Texas – Fees at the Padre Island National Seashore will be raised for the first time in nearly 20 years to help pay for additional visitor services.
Education Coordinator for Padre Island National Seashore, William "Buzz" Botts, said they get about 700,000 visitors a year and these improvements are needed.
"Padre Island National Seashore protects the longest stretch of undeveloped beach of this type that's left anywhere in the world," Botts said.
Recently, fee dollars have been used at the visitor center to open a new education center.
Other projects paid with those funds include a wildlife viewing station, new public restrooms, repairs to structures and phase one of the shoreline stabilization at the Bird Island Basin Campground.
"We got to do some work on our boat ramp. We're still having some issues after Hurricane Harvey," Botts said.
Funds collected in upcoming months will be used for new exhibits, repair the visitor center deck and boardwalk area. Visitors will soon pay double the prices to enjoy these beaches.
"It was $10 a week to come into the park. It's going up to $20, so it's doubling," Botts said.
"Hopefully it's not something that will deter too many people from coming out here because this is a really beautiful place," Botts said.
While 80 percent of the funds collected at the park stay there. The remaining 20 percent goes to other parks.
"It goes to places like San Antonio Missions, where they don't charge an entrance fee," Botts said.
According to officials with Padre Island National Seashore, last year park visitors contributed $27.4 million to the local economy and supported more than 300 jobs related to tourism.