JACKSON — The cost of a day of fishing in Yellowstone National Park is more than doubling this year, partly to direct needed funds toward removing non-native lake trout and controlling the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Boat permit fees are on the up, too. For the past decade, three-day, seven-day and season-long Yellowstone fishing licenses ran $18, $25 and $40, but the respective rates in 2021 will jump to $40, $55 and $75.
Boating permit costs — stagnant since the early 1990s — are going up relatively more. A weeklong non-motorized decal to slap on a canoe or kayak used to cost $5 and a season-long permit $10. Those rates are now $20 (one week) and $30 (season). Meanwhile, motorized seven-day and annual permits increased from $10 and $20 to $40 and $60.
Yellowstone is also starting to charge for required aquatic invasive species inspections, though the expense of those inspections is baked into the higher fees for permits required to launch a vessel.
Yellowstone rationalized the fee increases in a press release, pointing out there were “major financial shortfalls” last summer that hindered the park’s ability to control aquatic invasive species, especially in Yellowstone Lake. The most notable and costly aquatic invasive species in Yellowstone Lake is the lake trout, a fish-eating, larger-bodied and deeper-swimming relative of the plateau’s primary native trout, the Yellowstone cutthroat.
An annual netting program designed to crash the lake trout population while helping prop up cutthroat stocks runs $3 million annually. Donations that help support that program fell off in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another five years of netting, scientists estimate, are needed to achieve cutthroat conservation goals, and the park’s trying to ensure the funding is in place to do it.
“Efforts to restore native fish in Yellowstone Lake remain one of our highest conservation priorities,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. “Our continued success will be largely dependent on a permanent and reliable revenue stream that will not only help us continue our native fish restoration efforts, but also increase our capacity to detect and prevent new nonnative species from entering Yellowstone’s waters.”
Fees for Yellowstone fishing permits can now be paid online through Recreation.gov.
Boating permits must be acquired in person within the park.
Grand Teton National Park also raised the cost of its boating fees for 2021. Non-motorized permit fees have increased from $12 to $17, and fees for motor boats went from $40 to $56.
There’s no park-specific fishing license for Grand Teton Park, where a valid Wyoming fishing license is required instead. But the same state license does not satisfy the license requirements in Yellowstone.