Those increased entry fees that the National Park Service seeks to institute at Sandy Hook's Gateway Recreation Area have Congressman Frank Pallone (D-6) fretting that the agency is cannibalizing its revenue stream.

Service officials propose raising daily parking rates from $10 to $15 and season passes from $50 to $75 - hikes of 50 percent each that the agency had originally proposed to double. Pallone exerted some pressure to achieve a scale-back.

The Monmouth Democrat contends that the added fees, combined with exorbitant gasoline prices, will allow fewer visitors to travel to the park and beach.

At Pallone's request, Park Service representatives held a public hearing about the rate hikes, and got an earful from Jerseyans already strapped with rising costs of food, energy, rent and a property-tax situation in gridlock. The Congressman also noted nearby regional parks that charge significantly lower parking and admission fees.

“Sandy Hook is one of our area’s true natural treasures and New Jersey families deserve the opportunity to be able to visit the beach for an affordable price,” said Pallone in a statement issued today.  "While I'm relieved that the National Park Service didn't double the rates as they originally suggested, the new fees will make it less likely that many can enjoy Sandy Hook this summer."