According to a survey conducted last summer, visitors to Montana's State Park System are satisfied with the value obtained for the fees they pay to use the parks, and they think the fee system is fair.
Parks Division Administrator Doug Monger said "we are very pleased to learn that most of our visitors believe they are getting their money's worth, after the first fee increase in seven years."
According to the survey, 84 percent of the respondents said they were getting either a "good" or "very good" value for their state park fees. Conversely, only 5 percent of visitors said they were getting a "poor" or "very poor" value.
Another survey question asked visitors whether they felt the Montana State Park fee system was "fair." Of the respondents, 78 percent said the fee structure was either "very fair" or "generally fair." Only 9 percent said the fee structure was "very unfair" or "somewhat unfair."
All fees collected are used to maintain and operate the State Park System. Monger noted that "fees are a critical component of the park system. Without them," he said, "we would not be able to operate and maintain a quality system. Visitors need to know that the money they pay in fees has a direct impact on the experience we can offer them in the park. Each visitor needs to pay their fair share."
The survey was conducted on-site in a selection of state parks where fees are charged during the main portion of the visitor season in June, July and August of 1998. Nearly 1,200 returned surveys were recorded.
The fee survey was designed to measure how visitors were reacting to the new fee increase implemented during the 1998 season, the first comprehensive increase in the park system since 1991. Montana residents represented the majority of the survey respondents.
The results of last summer's survey compared favorably to a survey conducted in 1997, when 94 percent of the respondents said they were either "very" or "somewhat" satisfied with their state park visit.
According to Monger, "we've made some significant improvements to the park system in recent years. I think people who haven't visited our parks in a while will be pleased with what they find. While we're impressed that visitors have given us such high marks, we're determined to make them even better in the future."
Early Bird Park Passports are on sale now at license agents and Fish, Wildlife & Parks offices. At $16, and $8 for a second one, they make great holiday gifts.