Shenandoah National Park adjusts fee proposal

Shenandoah National Park has revised a proposal to increase its fee structure moving forward.

Karen Beck-Herzog, the park’s public affairs officer, said they received 240 comments during the 30-day period between Dec. 10 and Jan. 10.

“We received comments from people saying they would support the fee increase, but felt that [the proposal] was too much too fast,” Beck-Herzog said.

Beck-Herzog said park superintendent Jim Northup “wanted to phase-in the fee increase.”

The park is now proposing to increase the annual pass fee from $30 to $40 and the per-vehicle, seven-day pass to a $20. Currently the vehicle pass is $10 December through February and $15 March through November.

In addition, the park would also increase the per-person charges from $8 to $10 as well as the motorcycle fees from $10 to $15.

Those changes would take effect starting May 1, pending approval from the National Park Service. The original fee increases, as mandated by the National Park Service, would not be implemented until Jan. 1, 2017.

Those original fee increases included a $50 charge for an annual pass as well as a year-round $25 per-vehicle fee. The 2017 per-person fees would remain the same, and the seven-day motorcycle costs would increase to $20.

“The initiative was to review entrance station fees and then the park has the option on how to implement those,” she said. “This phased approach may end up being unique to Shenandoah.”

Beck-Herzog said that a majority of the comments the park received were in favor of a fee increase, with a portion of those voicing the “too much too fast” concerns.

The park was considering additional options, including passes valid for periods shorter than seven days.

“There were comments from people saying that they would like to see a less than seven-day pass,” Beck-Herzog said.

She added they analyzed the option, but “felt that it was impractical and not feasible,” partially due to the fact that the park has no way of enforcing such passes “on the way out.”

“Many visitors come and find that, really, one day is not enough for them … some of it came down to the visitors’ perspective as well,” Beck-Herzog explained.

The park also received comments from locals bordering the park concerning deals and a discounted annual pass.

However, Beck-Herzog explained, “The legislation does not allow for us to provide that discount.”

She added that the park provides discounted days, such as the fee-free day in June that applies to residents in counties that border the park.

“We do want to celebrate our neighbors,” Beck-Herzog said.

In that regard, Beck-Herzog said that she believes that, for residents near the park, the annual pass is a “great idea,” essentially because it covers the cost of visiting the park twice.

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