Park modifies fee increase proposal

Officials at Shenandoah National Park announced this week that they will modify a proposal, first announced in November 2014, to increase park entrance fees. Based on comments received from the public, the proposed increases would take place in two phases. Under the revised plan, which still must be approved by park service headquarters in Washington, an initial increase would take place on May 1 of this year, with a final increase taking place on Jan. 1, 2017.

“We feel the proposed increase is appropriate and necessary to sustain a world-class park,” said Park Superintendent Jim Northup in a prepared statement. “The majority of people who commented on our proposal supported the increase, but many felt it was too great an increase to make all at once. Consequently, we have modified our proposal to phase in the increase over a two-year period. That will give our stakeholders more time to adjust to and plan for these increases.”

The proposed entrance fees and schedule are as follows:

Park Annual Pass, currently $30, goes up to $40 on May 1, and $50 on Jan. 1, 2017. Per vehicle passes good for one to seven days, now $10 to $15, rise to $20 on May 1 (and to $25 on Jan. 1, 2017). Per person passes, now $8, go up to $10 on May 1. And motorcycle passes, now $10, rise to $15 on May 1 and $20 on Jan. 1, 2017.

Entrance fees are not charged to persons under 16 years of age or holders of the America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Senior, Access or Military passes. These passes may be obtained at the park.

The park will move forward with the proposal to begin to charging a $10 per-person fee for visitors participating in special ranger-led van tours to Rapidan Camp, President Hoover’s former retreat and a National Historic Landmark located within the Park. Under the proposal, children 12 and under would not be charged. The Park has also decided to move the group campsite currently at Loft Mountain to an underutilized area at Dundo Picnic Grounds, reducing conflicts within the main campground. Two 20-person group sites will be established at Dundo. The cost per site will be $45.

As a part of the park’s planning process, the park received comments including requests for day passes and reduced-cost passes for park neighbors. Park management considered a less-than-seven-day pass, but decided it was unfeasible. A discounted entrance fee rate for “local” citizens is not permitted under the federal law that governs fee collection in national parks.

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