Even though higher entrance fees in Yellowstone National Park are expected to raise roughly $7 million over the next three years, more money won't guarantee that the park will stay open for its traditional season.


That's because Park Service officials in Washington determined that maintenance for deteriorating roads and buildings should be top priority for the new money, said agency spokesman David Barna. "Everyone said this is what we have to do - keep it away from my salary, this guy's travel, pencils and pens," said Barna. "It's a little easier to point at tangible objects and say, "We rebuilt this sewer system, we rebuilt this visitor center." "


While that strategy may go over well in Congress, Yellowstone officials immediately caught heat locally for suggesting they cut back the tourist season. After listening to concerns from Sen. Craig Thomas, R-Wyo., Yellowstone officials announced that the park will be open for the traditional season this year. That means vehicles can enter the park from April 15 through Nov. 15 at the new price of $20 per car, up from $10 last year.


* Angus M. Thuermer Jr.