We admit it, we’re irritated. We’re irritated that our entrance fee to the park may be increasing yet again. We’re irritated that the new fee may be cost-prohibitive for many, a serious deterrent for others. We’re even more irritated that while a proposal is on the House floor to increase the park entrance fee by $45 during peak season, the budget for the parks is being cut. How does that make sense?
On one hand, it’s being said that the higher entrance fee would create revenue to address the backlog of deferred maintenance at the parks. On the other hand, under the budget plan, the park service would lose 1,242 full-time equivalent staff. If a tree falls in the woods—in this case on Skyline Drive—and no one’s around, did it really happen?
We love the park, its wildlife, its food (hello Skyland roasted chicken) and its facilities. You’ve never lived until you’ve picked up the “Who Pooped in the Woods?” book from the Byrd Visitor Center gift shop and went investigating.
We must protect these natural treasures and also help keep them accessible for future generations. We want to be able to continue the annual leaf peeping tradition with our children and their children for years to come. We want to hike the trails, spot the chipmunks at Big Meadows and see the deer grazing through the woods. At $70 can we really do that?
We agree with Greene County Economic Development and Tourism Director Alan Yost, Madison County Economic Development and Tourism Director Tracey Gardner, the Shenandoah National Park Trust, Senator Tim Kaine and others that we must speak out against this proposal. Comments can be made on the proposed peak season increase through Nov. 23 by visiting https://parkplanning.nps.gov/proposedpeakseasonfeerates. They can also be mailed to National Park Service, 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346, Washington, D.C. 20240.