Sky­line Drive view of Rapp might not come cheap

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By JoHn Mc­caslin Rap­pa­han­nock News staff

A Shenan­doah Na­tional Park ranger at the Thorn­ton Gap en­trance sta­tion didn’t mind shar­ing her per­sonal views sur­round­ing the Na­tional Park Ser­vice’s (NPS) pro­posed fee hikes for Shenan­doah and 16 other highly vis­ited na­tional parks dur­ing peak vis­i­tor sea­sons.

Bot­tom line: “It’s too ex­pen­sive for the lo­cals, they won’t come up any­more,” she opined.

The ranger ex­pressed her opin­ion af­ter hand­ing a car­load of visi­tors writ­ten no­tice of the pub­lic com­ment pe­riod dead­line of Novem­ber 23 sur­round­ing the sig­nif­i­cant pro­posed fee hike. (If you wish to weigh in, click into the web­site park­plan­ning.nps.gov/pro­posed­peak­sea­son­feer­ates;

or else writ­ten com­ments can be sent to 1849 C Street, NW, Mail Stop: 2346 Wash­ing­ton, DC 20240).

Dur­ing the peak sea­son at each park, the en­trance fee

would jump to a whop­ping $70 per pri­vate ve­hi­cle, $50 per mo­tor­cy­cle, and $30 per per­son on bike or foot. A park­spe­cific an­nual pass for any of the 17 parks would be $75.

In com­par­i­son, to en­ter Shenan­doah to­day costs $25 per pri­vate ve­hi­cle, which cov­ers pas­sen­gers for seven con­sec­u­tive days be­gin­ning on the day of pur­chase, $20 per mo­tor­cy­cle, and $10 per bike or in­di­vid­ual. An an­nual pass at Shenan­doah is cur­rently $50.

The pro­posed fee struc­ture would be im­ple­mented at Shenan­doah, Aca­dia, Mount Rainier and Rocky Moun­tain Na­tional Parks be­gin­ning on June 1, 2018; at Arches, Bryce Canyon, Cany­on­lands, De­nali, Glacier, Grand Canyon, Grand Te­ton, Olympic, Se­quoia & Kings Canyon, Yel­low­stone, Yosemite, and Zion Na­tional Parks start­ing on May 1, 2018; and at Joshua Tree Na­tional Park be­gin­ning some­time in 2018.

The NPS says the in­crease “would gen­er­ate badly needed rev­enue for im­prove­ments to the ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture” in­clud­ing “roads, bridges, camp­grounds, wa­ter­lines, bath­rooms, and other vis­i­tor ser­vices.”

Ac­cord­ing to Shenan­doah spokes­woman Sally Hurl­bert, Shenan­doah Na­tional Park alone is fac­ing a $75 mil­lion back­log in mainte- nance projects.

“The in­fra­struc­ture of our na­tional parks is ag­ing and in need of ren­o­va­tion and restora­tion,” said In­te­rior Sec­re­tary Ryan Zinke. “Tar­geted fee in­creases at some of our most-vis­ited parks will help en­sure that they are pro­tected and pre­served in per­pe­tu­ity and that visi­tors en­joy a world-class ex­pe­ri­ence that mir­rors the amaz­ing des­ti­na­tions they are vis­it­ing.

“We need to have the vi­sion to look at the fu­ture of our parks and take ac­tion in or­der to en­sure that our grand­kids’ grand­kids will have the same if not bet­ter ex­pe­ri­ence than we have to­day. Shor­ing up our parks' ag­ing in­fra­struc­ture will do that.”

Shenan­doah Na­tional Park alone is fac­ing a $75 mil­lion back­log in main­te­nance projects.

BY JOHN MC­CASLIN

Two el­derly cou­ples cel­e­brate reach­ing the sum­mit of Mary's Rock in Shenan­doah Na­tional Park last week­end, capturing the mo­ment on camera.

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