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Delegate urges for state takeover of Shenandoah National Park

By Ryan Cornell

When the government shutdown closed the 59 national parks across the U.S. in October, leaf-peeping tourists were locked out of the Shenandoah National Park and businesses in neighboring communities suffered a devastating loss.

One Virginia delegate is determined not to let that happen again.

Bob Marshall, R-13, wants to bring Shenandoah National Park back into Virginia's hands. He said the national government is incompetent at controlling the park and are "inappropriate trustees."

"This is a national treasure and the president is abusing it," he said. "If a kid abuses a toy, you take it back."

Marshall, who lives in Manassas and represents much of Prince William County, said he realized this when many of the visitors from his district were turned away from the park's entrance gates during the federal shutdown.

His bill, which would be considered in a 2014 General Assembly session, proposes that a commission be formed to study whether it's financially feasible for the commonwealth to run the Shenandoah National Park. He said the commission would be bipartisan and temporary.

"I'm confident that Virginia can run it better than the Department of the Interior," he said. "It's public property, but it's being treated like a private reserve."

Marshall said the bill is picking up support. He said two congressmen he's approached with the idea have expressed interest in supporting it.

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

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