nvdaily.com link to home page

Traffic | Weather | Mobile Edition
      Archives | Subscribe | Special Sections

Local News arrow Front Royal arrow Ryan Cornell arrow Warren County

| 0

Autumn not the time for a closing

National park draws many tourists to area

By Ryan Cornell

For the Shenandoah National Park and the nearby businesses that feed off its tourism dollars, a government shutdown threat couldn't have come at a worse time.

October is traditionally the peak month for leaf peepers visiting Warren County, but that would change if the park closes its gates.

Karen Beck-Herzog, public affairs officer for Shenandoah National Park, said a quarter of the park's annual visitation comes from October alone.

"We had 240,000 people visit Shenandoah in October last year," she said. "The two most popular weekends of the year are the second and third weekends in October."

In 2011, the park has a $74 million impact on the local community with visitor spending, she added.

Only two days after National Public Lands Day packed the park with volunteers working on service projects, Shenandoah was in danger of furloughing most of its staff.

Beck-Herzog is among 200 out of 240 employees on the furlough list. The remaining workers -- mostly law enforcement, fire personnel and waste treatment plant operators -- are exempt from a closing so that they could keep the areas secure and protect the park's resources.

Skyline Drive and all recreating, including backpacking, camping, hiking and restaurants, would be closed during a shutdown. Beck-Herzog said people visiting for the day would be asked to leave, while others with lodging would have 48 hours to make alternative accommodations and evacuate the park.

Another nationally funded operation that would close in case of a shutdown is the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal. National Zoo spokeswoman Jen Zoon said the animal care staff, zookeepers and veterinarians would keep working through a shutdown.

James Bolen, manager of Skyline Caverns, said a shutdown would have a "detrimental effect" on his business.

"Quite a few people come through here from Skyline Drive," he said. "It's a really bad time, because the leaves are starting to change."

Bolen said he remembers working at the caverns during the most recent government shutdown in 1995 and 1996, but because it happened in the winter, it didn't have much of an effect.

"In December and January, tourism almost comes to a halt," he said. "Nobody travels too much."

The month of October is certainly a peak month, agrees Brent Jackson, general manager of Holiday Inn and Suites in Front Royal. He said the area's tourism creates a strong demand for hotel rooms.

"I read somewhere that it cost companies that rely on the Blue Ridge Parkway $2 million a day [during the 1995-1996 shutdown]," he said. "I'm not looking to be a part of that."

Not everyone was worried about a shutdown. Don Roberts, president of Front Royal Outdoors, whose canoe, kayak, and raft rental business sits right on the south fork of the Shenandoah River, doesn't think a shutdown would have much of an impact on his business.

"We may even benefit from it, who knows, because government workers, a lot of our clientele is from D.C. and Northern Virginia," he said. "They can take time off and use the river."

The Shenandoah National Park is among 401 parks, monuments, historic houses, battlefields and other units that would have closed because of the shutdown. According to the National Parks Conservation Association, a shutdown would have put nearly 87 percent of Park Service employees and more than 21,000 staff members indefinitely out of their jobs.

For more information, visit doi.gov/shutdown.

Contact staff writer Ryan Cornell at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rcornell@nvdaily.com

Keep up to date on local news

Sign up here to receive Northern Virginia Daily news delivered to your email box each morning and when breaking news occurs.


Comments that are posted represent the opinion of the commenter and not the Northern Virginia Daily/nvdaily.com. View our comments/submisssions policy. Report abuse by clicking the X next to the comment.

Local News Sections

Affordable Care Act Agency on Aging Agriculture Alex Bridges Apple Blossom Festival Aviation Basye Berryville Boyce Breaking News Business Charities Civil War Clarke County Colleges Corrections Courthouse Notes: Permits, Transactions Courts & Legal News Crime & Public Safety Economy and Jobs Edinburg Education Edward N. Bell Election 2012 Entertainment Environment Fairs & Festivals Fire & Rescue Fishers Hill Fort Valley Frederick County Front Royal George Washington National Forest Guest Column Hard Times Health History Holidays Homes In The Spotlight Jeff Nations Joe Beck Josette Keelor Kim Walter Ledger Livestock Local Markets Maurertown Media Middletown Military & Veterans Moms Mount Jackson New Market Page County Pets & Animals Politics Progress 2013 Quicksburg Religion Rockingham County RSW Jail Ryan Cornell School News Shenandoah County Shenandoah Farms Volunteer Fire Department Star Tannery State Stephens City Steven A. Boyce Strasburg Toms Brook Traffic & Transportation Utilities Valley 911 Warren County Weather West Virginia Winchester Woodstock Year in Review

News | Sports | Business | Lifestyle | Obituaries | Opinion | Multimedia| Entertainment | Classifieds
Contact Us | NIE | Place a Classified | Privacy Policy | Comments/Submissions Policy | Subscribe

Copyright © The Northern Virginia Daily | nvdaily.com | 152 N. Holliday St., Strasburg, Va. 22657 | (800) 296-5137

2013 Virginia Press Association Sweepstakes Winner
The Best Small Daily Newspaper in Virginia!

nvdaily.com | seeshenandoah.com