The Blue Ridge Parkway is proposing a fee increase for campgrounds along the scenic route. As all National Parks struggle with a maintenance backlog for a total of more than $11 billion, the Parkway is faced with $500 million of deferred upkeep projects, including campground facilities and road work. There are two town hall meetings when you can weigh in or you can submit comments online. Read on for details.
From the National Park Service:
(NC/VA) – Blue Ridge Parkway staff will hold two town hall meetings to discuss possible fee increases in 2017. The current $16 per night camping fee at all Parkway campgrounds would be increased to $20, and the current $30 group camping fee would be increased to $35. There would also be two new fees; a $3 shower fee for non-campers at those campgrounds where showers are available, and a $5 dump fee for non-campers at each campground dump facility.
Senior and Access Pass discounts would still apply to the per-night camping fee, and result in a two dollar increase to $10 per night. Passes would not be utilized for non-camper shower or dump fees, or for group camping reservations.
“We are committed to keeping the Parkway camping opportunities affordable and to provide visitors with the best possible experience,” said Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Mark Woods. “The money from camping fees is used to maintain and improve existing campground infrastructure such as picnic tables, tent pads, and visitor facilities.”
Recent fee projects have replaced fire rings and improved campground volunteer sites for increased visitor service contacts and availability. Additional revenue raised by a fee increase would help improve and create larger infrastructure improvements such as paving, shower facilities, and utility upgrades.
The Blue Ridge Parkway is a strong economic engine for the surrounding area. In 2015, more than 15 million park visitors contributed $952.1 million to the local economy and supported 15,300 jobs related to tourism.
A town hall meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, at the Watauga County Center, NC Cooperative Extension, 252 Poplar Grove Road in Boone, N.C., from 4-6 p.m. and will include a public comment session. A second meeting will take place on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, at the Peaks of Otter Lodge in Bedford, Virginia, at Milepost 86 of the Blue Ridge Parkway, also from 4–6 p.m. Comments may also be submitted electronically through the following link: http://parkplanning.nps.gov/blrifeeincrease through September 15, 2016.
Following the town hall meetings, feedback will determine how, or if, a fee increase would be implemented.
The Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation is currently raising funds for three campground/picnic site projects, the rehabilitation of Doughton Park Picnic Area, the installation of showers at Price Park Campground, and upgrades to a number of picnic tables, fire grills, and walkways at Price Lake.