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National Park Service Sued Over Cashless Entrance Fee Policy

Three people sued the National Park Service earlier this month, saying the agency denied them access to a national park because they tried to pay the entrance fee with cash.

The lawsuit, filed in a federal court in the District of Columbia, challenges the Park Service’s recently implemented cashless entrance fee system at 29 locations. They argue refusing to accept legal U.S. currency violates federal law and discriminates against those without bank accounts.

The Park Service implemented the policy last year to reduce the amount of cash and checks handled by the federal government. While cashless payments are arguably quicker and easier than cash payments, officials say they’re also easier to manage logistically because they don’t have to transport cash to another location.

The three plaintiffs in the case — Esther van der Werf, of Ventura County, California; Toby Stover, of Ulster County, New York; and Elizabeth Dasburg, of McIntosh County, Georgia — all say they were denied entrance to a park for trying to pay entrance fees with cash.

In two instances, van der Werf and Dasburg say they emailed the Park Service about paying an entrance fee with cash, to which the agency told them “entrance fees may not be paid by cash or check.” In Dasburg’s case, the agency even advised her to buy a pre-paid card from a retailer so she could use it to pay the entrance fee.

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