U.S. News


National Park Service sued for going cashless

In recent years, many U.S. National Parks have implemented cashless policies. That policy effectively shuts out those without accounts, a suit says.
Tonto National Monument is among the parks that have cashless policies.
Posted at 2:23 PM, Mar 21, 2024

Three plaintiffs filed a lawsuit against the National Park Service, alleging they were denied access to the parks due to the parks' cashless entry policies. 

Plaintiffs Esther van der Werf, Toby Stover, and Elizabeth Dasburg filed the lawsuit in federal court earlier this month. They say that the National Park Service is violating federal law as cash "is legal tender for all public charges pursuant to 31 U.S. Code § 5103."

The law states, "United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues. Foreign gold or silver coins are not legal tender for debts."

In recent years, numerous U.S. National Parks have shifted toward only allowing those with credit or debit cards to pay for entry fees. The National Park Service said there are multiple benefits to eliminating paper money. 

"Uniform cashless policies should decrease wait times and reduce errors around making change. It supports more of your fee dollars going toward programs and projects that support the visitor experience, rather than administrative expenses," the National Park Service said. 

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Cherry trees along the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

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The plaintiffs argue that the cashless policy shuts 5.9 million Americans out of some National Parks, citing a 2021 Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation that shows the unbanked population. 

All three plaintiffs shared in a court filing that they attempted to enter a National Park using cash but were denied entry. In the filing, Dasburg said she was directed to visit a nearby store to purchase a prepaid credit card in order to conduct the transaction.