Park proposes new fee structure for 2015

Shenandoah National Park is proposing a new fee structure for visitors and is soliciting public comment through Jan. 7.

An annual car pass under the proposal, for example, would increase from $30 a year to $50 a year, and the cost of a single day per-person pass would increase from $8 to $12. The fee for a non-commercial vehicle — such as an RV — would go from $10-$15 to $25 per week.

Karen Beck-Herzog, public affairs officer for the Shenandoah National Park, noted that every national park in the country is looking at adjusting their fee structures to ensure that parks are providing more consistency in the fees.

Beck-Herzog said 80 percent of the fees would still be “reinvested into enhancing the visitor’s experience.”

The additional 20 percent, she noted, will still go toward parks that are not permitted to charge entry fees. There are 401 parks nationwide, but only 131 charge entry fees.

“We were hoping that the public will be overall supportive of the increases,” Beck-Herzog said.

The park will be hosting four public forums about the fees throughout the valley next week.

The first public forum will be held Dec. 15 at the Piedmont Community College Room 209 in Stanardsville; the next will be Dec. 16 at the Warren County Community Center in Front Royal; the third will be Dec. 17 at the Waynesboro Public Libray in Waynesboro; the final meeting will be Dec. 18 at the BB&T Center for the Performing Arts in Luray. Each meeting will begin at 7 p.m.

If the new fee structure is approved, it would take effect May 1.

“The fees are very important to the park,” Beck-Herzog said. “They help us to preserve and protect this very special place.”

Part of that preservation and enhancement, she said, has included providing better access for Americans with disabilities, including the historic Rapidan Camp — which served as President Herbert Hoover’s retreat.

The park is also considering relocating some of its group camping in Loft Mountain to the Dundo Picnic Area, a move of approximately three miles.

The cost per site at the proposed Dundo campgrounds will be $45, which according to Beck-Herzog is similar to the cost of other sites within the park.

This decision, she said, is due in part to public complaints regarding certain conflicts in the current Loft Mountain location. She noted that some of the complaints have been noise-related. The park is considering building two group sites for the new Dundo location.

Anyone wishing to submit a comment about the new fees can do so at http://tinyurl.com/lstu4tp.

Contact staff writer Kevin Green at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kgreen@nvdaily.com