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Park Service considers charging fees for protests around National Mall

The White House is seen behind Lafayette Square in early August 2018. (WTOP/Dave Dildine)

WASHINGTON — The National Park Service could begin charging fees for demonstrations and other First Amendment activities around the National Mall, the White House and other sites.

Those fees would go toward helping “recover some of the costs of administering permitted activities,” reads the proposed change. That includes such things as trash pickup, barricades, event management and repairing turf damage.

Parades and ceremonies are already subject to such fees.

It’s among other changes being considered in an effort to better balance free speech while ensuring that “iconic viewsheds are left unobstructed for the millions of people who visit every year to experience them,” said the park service’s Lisa Mendelson-Ielmini.

Some of the other changes being considered are tweaking the number of participants needed to require a permit, as well as adjusting how long groups should be able to establish displays in the nation’s parks.

The proposed changes would apply to:

  • The portion of Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park that’s located in D.C. and Montgomery County, Maryland;
  • George Washington Parkway;
  • National Capital Parks – East;
  • National Mall and Memorial Parks;
  • President’s Park; and
  • Rock Creek Park.

The 60-day public comment period began Wednesday and ends Oct. 15.

To comment, visit Regulations.gov and search for “RIN 1024-AE45.” Comments can also be mailed or hand-delivered:

National Park Service
National Mall and Memorial Parks
900 Ohio Drive SW
Washington, D.C. 20024
Attn: Brian Joyner

Emailed comments won’t be accepted.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report.


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