NPS Destinations to Be Shuttered, Barricaded

October 1, 2013 by · Comments Off on NPS Destinations to Be Shuttered, Barricaded 

A midnight deadline to avert a shutdown passed Monday night (Sept. 30) and the National Park Service was preparing to put a “Closed” sign around America’s national treasures.

As reported by Fox News, Congress missed its deadline to keep the government running, and the National Park Services’ contingency plan states in the event of a shutdown all activities at the parks, except for necessary emergency services, would be immediately suspended and the parks would be closed indefinitely.

Not only would the public be unable to enter the parks, visitors currently camping or staying in a national park would be ordered to leave within two days and all roads leading to the parks would be closed.

Additionally, officials told Fox News the National Park Police in Washington plan to barricade all monuments. In the case of open-air monuments that have no physical barrier, such as the World War II memorial in downtown D.C., the police would have to go to extra effort and expense to create one to keep the public out.

In a statement at the White House press room Monday evening, President Obama cited the shuttering of monuments as one of the effects of the shutdown that will have a palpable impact on Americans.

“Tourists will find every one of America’s national parks and monuments, from Yosemite to the Smithsonian to the Statue of Liberty, immediately closed,” he said. “And of course the communities and small business that rely on these national treasures for their livelihoods will be out of customers and out of luck.”

The shutdown is also expected to have a huge effect on thousands of National Park Services employees, with staffing cut to the “very minimum” necessary. Over 21,000 employees in parks nationwide would be furloughed.

NPS Taking Some Heat for Its Pro-Islam Film

September 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on NPS Taking Some Heat for Its Pro-Islam Film 

Click here to watch, courtesy of Fox News, a portion of a controversial video that was funded by the National Park Service.

Conservative-minded media have been taking to task the National Park Service (NPS) in recent days for a pro-Islam video it funded this summer.

The video shows children at an Islamic school in New York praising the virtues of Islam, especially its stance on women’s rights.

Now, a member of the mainstream media, Fox News, has joined the fray.

The network reports:

Another example of your hard-earned tax dollars at work! Apparently, the National Park Service (NPS) has a ton of money lying around and thought that maybe producing some pro-Islam videos might further their mission to provide national parks to Americans.

Seems legit.

So they hired a media person to visit the AnNur Islamic School in Schenectady, N.Y., and got the real truth about Islam. Which may surprise you.

Woodall’s Campground Management reached out to NPS Director Jon Jarvis for a comment on this issue but he has yet to respond.


Sequestration: Parks Bracing for Grim Future

September 20, 2013 by · 3 Comments 

 Editor’s Note: The following column was provided by writer Kellyn Brown and appeared in the Flathead Beacon, Kalispell, Mont.

Of the many challenges facing Glacier National Park’s new Superintendent Jeff Mow the most pressing will be decided by Congress in the next few weeks. Will lawmakers replace sequestration – the automatic budget cuts that will deepen in the coming years? Will they leave it in place? Will they provide a temporary fix?

Predicting whether the House and Senate will reach an agreement on the budget is stupid. But I’ll assume the chambers won’t agree to anything substantial – basing that assumption on recent history (debt ceiling, farm bill, transportation bill … ). If that’s the case, then the budget for the National Park Service will continue to shrink and Mow is realistic about the looming consequences.

“How, as a government agency, do we do less with less?” Mow asked in a recent interview.

And his is not the only agency bracing for the worst. According to a recent report from bank behemoth Goldman Sachs, sequestration could cost another 100,000 federal jobs over the course of the next several months. Goldman also blames the automatic budget cuts for the “disappointing” 0.1% personal income gain registered in July.

Right now, the general public has mostly shrugged its shoulders at the federal cutbacks. That can partially be attributed to the way in which a variety of agencies weathered what they thought were temporary reductions – “through furloughs and deferral of maintenance and training, with the hope that sequestration would ultimately be reversed,” according to the Goldman report.

But that may not happen. And, to be sure, the initial impacts have already been felt in parts of the country, especially at national parks. Over Memorial Day weekend, the Arizona Republic reported drivers sitting in their car for an hour to enter the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park – an abnormally long wait blamed on staff reductions. There were also fewer rangers to protect area parks even after cactuses were vandalized.

Elsewhere, in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Blue Ridge Parkway, campgrounds and visitor centers have closed and ranger-led programs were cancelled. In Glacier National Park, it appeared the sudden loss of $682,000 from its roughly $12.5 budget million could delay plowing Going-to-the-Sun Road. If that were to happen – if the opening of the park’s signature attraction was delayed – the public outcry and tourism dollars lost would be equally substantial.

Instead, the Glacier National Park Conservancy, which raises financial support for various resources and aspects of park operations, donated about $10,000 to help cover plowing costs. That, and salary savings from unanticipated personnel changes, allowed the road to open on schedule.

But what happens next year? Or the year after that? Perhaps the worst part of the reoccurring budget battles in Congress is agencies have no idea how much money they will be allocated. It’s impossible to plan long-term when funding is short-term. If sequestration is permanent then lawmakers need to say as much and their constituents who reap the economic benefits of living near national parks can brace for the impact.

How much of an effect these cuts will have – if made permanent – is debated. But the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), which advocates for both the park service and the country’ national parks, paints a dire picture.

If reduced funding levels remain, along with reduced services, NPCA foresees “significant implications … for park visitors and park gateway businesses that annually depend on $30 billion in economic activity and more than a quarter million jobs that our national parks support.”

But compounding that is the uncertainty. If Mow, and other superintendents, need to prepare to do “less with less,” then they at least deserve to know by how much.



J. Jarvis: ‘We Muddled Through the Summer’

September 12, 2013 by · Comments Off on J. Jarvis: ‘We Muddled Through the Summer’ 

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park. According to some estimates, glaciers in the park will largely be gone in the next 15 to 20 years. Photo courtesy of the National Park Service

Editor’s Note: The following story was published by the Hungry Horse News, Flathead, Mont.

National Park Service (NPS) Director Jonathan Jarvis sits on a picnic table outside the Lake McDonald Lodge on a near perfect afternoon last week. Behind him, a building has a tarp draped over it because a tree fell and damaged the roof. The repairs have yet to be made, and there might not be enough money to actually make them, due to federal budget cuts.

Jarvis rattles off the impacts of the cuts that came this year and will likely impact budgets next year as well — a $153 million cut to the NPS operations budget, a hiring freeze that impacted 900 positions, a thousand seasonal employees who were not hired.

Jarvis was visiting Glacier Park to meet with the National Parks Foundation Board to go over fundraising strategies for the future and to get a first hand look at climate change.

“A lot of people stepped up” to help fund the nation’s parks, he said.

“That’s not sustainable,” he said in a candid interview. “That’s the bottom line. We muddled through the summer.”

Meanwhile, Glacier Park is on the cusp of posting record visitation numbers this summer — visitors that bring millions of dollars to the local economy.

“I would hope Congress would understand the National Park Service is not an expenditure — it’s an investment,” he said.

Jarvis claimed that every $1 spent on a national park translated into $4 for the local economy.

“(Businesses) rely on this park being funded adequately,” he said.

If people start to see a declining experience, such as rundown facilities or lack of staffing, “they’re not going to come back,” he said.

This year, the Glacier National Park Conservancy donated about $500,000 to Glacier Park projects, but it was the first time ever they gave $10,000 toward plowing the Going-to-the-Sun Road — a budgetary item normally covered by the park.

“It should never fall on the backs of philanthropy to fund the national parks,” Jarvis said.

It’s tough for NPS to plan a budget as a perpetual organization when it gets annual funding. The budget right now is untenable. He nods to the shed behind him as an example.

Jon Jarvis

“Look, we’re throwing a tarp over it,” he said.

Jarvis touched on other Glacier Park subjects. While noise is one of the main complaints facing the park, he said, NPS has no authority to regulate noise from motorcycles.

But park officials can regulate air tours over the Park, he said. He noted work has been done in other national parks, including the Grand Canyon, where air tour operators use helicopters designed to reduce noise.

Glacier Park’s General Management Plan, written in the late 1990s, calls for phasing out air tours over the park, but that has never happened.

Regarding climate change, Jarvis said NPS’s role is to study the science and manage species impacted when possible, but NPS wouldn’t do something on a landscape scale, such as cover a glacier with a tarp to try to preserve it.

According to some estimates, glaciers in Glacier National Park will largely be gone in the next 15 to 20 years.


National Park Service: At a Major Crossroads

September 10, 2013 by · Comments Off on National Park Service: At a Major Crossroads 

Americans value their natural resources, such as Yellowstone National Park’s Old Faithful.

Editor’s Note: It’s been six months since the federal government began its venture into uncharted waters known as the “sequester.” Ordered to cut their budgets by 5%, governmental departments, including the National Park Service (NPS), found various ways to comply with the congressional mandate. The jury is still out as to how the American public will respond to the sequester, as tighter budgets appear to be certain in the near future. Woodall’s Campground Management spoke to sources in the outdoor recreation industry to gauge what lies ahead. This story appears in the September issue of WCM.

The fate of the National Park Service is at a major fork in the road, says Derrick Crandall, president of the American Recreation Coalition (ARC).

“If we don’t have some change in terms of how national parks are funded and operated, I am pessimistic about national parks being able to be continue to be a catalyst for people to leave the cities and see the great outdoors,” Crandall told Woodall’s Campground Management (WMC). “We will see cutbacks in services, more restrictions in things like visitors centers and park rangers. That is not good for the RV industry and that is not good for the travel and tourism industry,”

As one of the nation’s highest profile lobbyists for national parks, Crandall is adamant that these changes must be adopted now.

As he told WCM on the eve of the sequester late last winter, the federal government must take more of a businesslike approach to park funding and operations. Some 90% of the National Park Service budget comes from government appropriations. This percentage is way out of line and must be reduced as user fees are increased, Crandall argued.

The share of user fees would surely rise if parks would undergo a modernization program so that campgrounds would again appeal to RVers, Crandall said. Most national park campgrounds are configured on a grand plan adopted in 1950, years before the advent of moderns RVs. Since 1987, revenues from RVers have fallen by 50% at the national parks, primarily because most national park campgrounds lack service such as water and electricity, pull-through sites, dump stations and Wi-Fi, he said.

“We also need to reflect the reality a lot of people are coming out of urban America. They don’t own RVs and tents. We have to do what Kampgrounds of America Inc. (KOA)has done and provide simple accommodations to tents for people to live the real park experience,” he said.

Derrick Crandall, counselor for the National Parks Hospitality Association

Crandall finds the present fee policy especially vexing.

“Now, you pay a max $25 for a whole carload for seven days access to a national park. It’s created an unintended secondary market. You can walk around Jackson, Wyo., and buy an unused national park entrance receipt for $10.”

Another fee policy Crandall finds irksome is the discount for senior citizens to enter national parks. ‘We don’t do that with healthcare, food or education, why do it for national parks,” he asked. “Let’s be real, we can’t afford to give away free access and 50% camping to every American who is 62. I don’t think anybody intended that to happen. It tends to force families with kids to subsidize seniors.”

As ARVC president, Crandall speaks for his 21 sustaining members, which include the Family Motor Coach Association (FMCA), The Coleman Co., the Good Sam Club, KOA, the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC), National Park Hospitality Association, the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), the Recreation Vehicle Dealers Association (RVDA), ReserveAmerica and the Pennsylvania Recreation Vehicle & Camping Association (PRVCA).

NPCA Compares How Congress Views Parks

In early August, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) compared the approach by Congress to tackling the parks budget and found divergent results.

A Senate appropriations bill treats the National Park Service much better than does a similar measure in the House of Representatives, NPCA stated.

The appropriations bill in the Senate is nearly $350 million above the House bill, and also reverses the damaging sequester cuts, according to the NPCA.

Craig Obey

The Senate Department of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill increases the National Park Service budget by $60 million over Fiscal Year 2012 levels. It provides a substantial increase of $182 million over current levels to operate national parks, although that still is $6 million below the Obama administration’s Fiscal Year 2014 levels, the parks advocacy group said.

“The National Parks Conservation Association applauds Sen. (Jack) Reed’s, D-Rhode Island, efforts to restore funding for our national treasures. This investment would move our national parks in the direction of recovery, benefitting visitors, park communities, and the parks, themselves,” said Craig Obey, senior vice president for government affairs for the NPCA.

“In contrast, the House funding levels are fundamentally inadequate and would contribute to a continuing decline for our parks. Although the House bill clearly prioritizes park operations, the funding levels dictated by the House budget are so unrealistic that they don’t come close to meeting the need,” said Obey.

In contrast to the House bill that eliminates all funds for the National Park Service to protect the parks by acquiring inholdings within their boundaries, the Senate bill restores those levels to where they were two years ago, the NPCA review of the funding bill showed.

The Senate bill also reauthorizes for an additional year the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act, which allows the parks to keep the nearly $180 million in entrance and other fees they collect each year.

“These two bills illustrate stark, alternative futures for our national parks – one with more park rangers, the other with fewer; one with more open park campgrounds, bathrooms, and visitor centers, and the other with more closed facilities,” Obey said. “Ultimately, the best way to protect the future of our parks is for Congress and the president to work together on a grand budget deal that addresses the deficit drivers and ends these indiscriminate discretionary cuts that threaten our national parks, the experience of park visitors, and gateway economies that depend on the upkeep of our national treasures.”

National Park Journalist Enters the Discussion

Kurt Repanshek, founder and editor of National Parks Traveler, the Internet’s very first site dedicated to covering America’s National Park System and the National Park Service (NPS) on a daily basis and today a leading online source for news about the national parks, seeks to put the funding dilemma into prospective.

Kurt Repanshek

“I think Congress needs to realize that the Park Service budget is just a tiny sliver of the overall federal budget. Around one-14th of 1%, I believe. And yet, the national treasures – Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Everglades, Glacier Bay, Gettysburg, etc. – that the agency is tasked with both maintaining and interpreting should be – need to be – well-preserved and maintained for future generations, and to properly fund the Park Service should neither be difficult nor seen as wasteful.”

Repanshek says the American public’s perception of government varies and for that reason so does its views toward the National Park Service.

“There are folks out there who view the Park Service as a bloated, bureaucratic agency. At the same time, there is a wide range of staffing vacancies that are concerning. For instance, Acadia National Park, despite its rich biodiversity, has no botanist on staff. The Blue Ridge Parkway, designed to showcase the Blue Ridge Mountains, has no landscape architect on staff.

Repanshek maintains that since March, “the impacts of the budget sequestration have largely been invisible to the general public. You might see reduced visitor center hours, or in parks with several visitor centers some that are closed, as well as some campground closures. Overall, park superintendents have done a fairly good job in juggling their staffing and budgets to cover visitor needs. But what goes unseen can fester significantly if let go for too long.”

Invasive species are a growing problem, and some parks don’t have resources to tackle them. At Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Repanshek said, the inability of the superintendent to hire his full complement of seasonal rangers perhaps played a role in bear problems they experienced there this summer, as there was not a ranger to work on a daily basis to educate campers about bears and the necessity to keep a clean camp. In other parks, interpretive programs have been reduced.

“The Park Service is ‘making do,’ but only in the short-term and largely in the most visible areas,” he continued. “At Rocky Mountain National Park they closed the Moraine Park Visitor Center this summer. That might be an inconvenience to some, but the Visitor Center at Beaver Meadows just a short ride away was open. At Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota, they juggled some maintenance funding to open a campground that was to have been closed all this summer.”

“When you consider the maintenance backlogs at the parks, the sequestration is doing real damage, as are Congress’s cuts to important budget lines, such as park construction, which addresses the maintenance needs,” Repanshek said.

Friends groups, such as Friends of Acadia, are finding they have to step up to help offset some of these shortages, but that in turn affects the good work they do for the parks, he added.

He concluded, “The parks will continue to be funded to a level that allows operations to continue, but without some forceful allies in Congress the system could slowly decay if longstanding maintenance items and staffing vacancies aren’t addressed. The money exists to properly fund the Park Service. Congress, and the administration, just need to make it a priority.”

Crandall and Repanshek take somewhat different approaches to the declining revenue streams at national parks. While Crandall favors modernization, Repanshek says it is not necessary.

“We don’t need to transform the national parks into commercial operations, complete with Wi-Fi and full hookups at every campground. I find it somewhat suspect to hear that RV visits to the parks have waned while private campground use outside the parks has risen. Do those RVers spend those stays in the private campgrounds, or do they take day tours of the parks?

Similarly, he chides those who would expand the services at Yosemite National Park.

“The Yosemite Valley is an amazing, iconic destination, one with soaring cliffs, incredible waterfalls and a beautiful river snaking across its floor. It’s one of the world’s natural wonders. Do we really need ice rinks and bike and raft rentals to get visitors to enjoy this valley?”

NPS Director Jon Jarvis: “Interesting Character”

Jon Jarvis

A wildcard in the discussion is Jon Jarvis, director of the National Park Service. “He is a very interesting character, a guy I know well,” said Crandall, who meets weekly with Jarvis. “He reflects the best of past traditions but he is increasingly seeing a different vision, a different model for the Park Service to operate.”

Jarvis recognizes that 15% to 20% of all national park visitors are from foreign countries, yet they pay the same fees as do American citizens. “We’re subsidizing international visitors to come visit us,” Crandall said.

“Maybe we could use our parks as a loss leader to get foreigners to come but we have never had a discussion whether the American taxpayer wants to subsidize a Chinese visitor,” Crandall said. “Those are debates we are now having.”

Crandall said Jarvis is “trying to unify the park community and look at the long-term picture. We need to be chess players and not checker players.”

At the Senate hearing in August, Crandall said he heard senators talking about the right things: supplementary funding for national parks, increased philanthropy, higher payments from concessioners and changes to fee policies.

For its part, one of the “Key Issues” talking points ARVC presented to members of Congress during the National Issues Conference in May pertained to “necessary funding for America’s national parks.”

ARVC stated in part, “Members recognize that America’s National Parks often are a gateway to privately-owned RV parks and campgrounds. Under federal budget sequestration, the National Park Service must implement $110 million in budget cuts over the final seven months of Fiscal Year 2013 (March through Sept. 30, 2013), requiring a reduction to visitor services, hours of operation, and shortening of seasons. ARVC supports funding for the National Park System that allows America’s National Parks to be appropriately maintained and staffed.”

NPS Seeking to Bring Minorities into the Parks

September 6, 2013 by · Comments Off on NPS Seeking to Bring Minorities into the Parks 

The National Park Service is seeking ways to attract more minorities to its parks. Only about one in five visitors to a national park is nonwhite.

In a soul-searching, head-scratching journey of its own, the National Parks Service, the agency that manages some of the most awe-inspiring public places, is scrambling to rethink and redefine itself to the growing number of Americans who do not use the parks in the way that previous — mostly white — generations did.

Only about one in five visitors to a national park site is nonwhite, according to a 2011 University of Wyoming report commissioned by the Park Service, and only about 1 in 10 is Hispanic — a particularly lackluster embrace by the nation’s fastest-growing demographic group, the New York Times reported.

One way the service has been fighting to break through is with a program called American Latino Expeditions, which invited Latinos to visit parks. Groups like theirs went to three parks and recreation areas this summer — participants competed for the spots, with expenses paid for mostly through corporate donations — part of a multipronged effort to turn the Park Service’s demographic battleship around.

Click here to read the entire story.


NPS Reverses ‘Anti-Christian’ Stance in Ozarks

September 3, 2013 by · Comments Off on NPS Reverses ‘Anti-Christian’ Stance in Ozarks 

The National Park Service has reversed its decision to require permits in advance of church baptisms in the waters of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways (shown in red) in south central Missouri. The nearby Eleven Point National Scenic and Wild River  is shown in green. Map courtesy of Wikipedia

After receiving backlash for requesting permits for baptisms at a Missouri park, the National Park Service (NPS) is denying allegations of discrimination against Christians, according to the Christian Post.

Mike Litterst, spokesman for the National Park Service, insisted on clarifying the situation in an e-mail to the Christian Post one week ago, reported.

“It has never been the intention of the National Park Service to limit the number of baptisms performed at Ozark National Scenic Riverways,” he said.

The NPS’ statement comes after a complaint from Missouri Congressman Jason Smith who questioned the requirement of baptisms needing permits at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, pointing out that other activities such as fishing and swimming do not require the same permits.

“I am very troubled by any federal rule that requires churches to apply for a permit for the purpose of baptism,” Smith said, “especially when these traditional activities have been done in the rivers and streams of this nation since its founding.”

Smith contacted Bill Black, superintendent of the Ozark National Scenic Riverways, who responded quickly and reversed the policy.

“As of today the park’s policy has been clarified to state that no permit will be required for baptisms within the riverways,” Black wrote.

Congressman Smith called the decision a “victory for common sense.” He also stated that “the notion that permits would be required for baptisms on our riverways is ridiculous.”

U.S. Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo., questioned a National Park Service decision requiring a church to request a permit before using a federal waterway for baptisms. The park service relented.

The National Park Service had begun enforcing the policy that requires churches to obtain special use permits in order to baptize in public water. It also required churches give the NPS a 48 hours advance notice of pending baptisms.

Church member Dennis Purcell found this problematic.

“If the Holy Spirit is working on Sunday morning, you’re going to baptize Sunday afternoon” Purcell told Salem News. “You may not know ahead of time.”

This is not the only case of anti-Christian allegations against parks. In Olympia, Wash., one church was recently denied a permit to hold a baptism at a public park, after an attorney general said baptisms were a violation of the state constitution, according to the Christian Post.



Update: ‘Let It Burn’ Policy in National Parks!

August 30, 2013 by · Comments Off on Update: ‘Let It Burn’ Policy in National Parks! 

The Rim Fire destroyed forests in a national forest and a national park. But how firefighters fight the fire is different in these two adjacent regions. Map courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service.

As the massive Rim Fire roared out of the Stanislaus National Forest and deeper into Yosemite National Park this week, public attention rose sharply.

But the intensity of firefighting did not, the Los Angeles Times reported.

That’s because part of the blaze had crossed into the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, which has a more restrained approach to managing wildfires than other federal, state and local fire agencies battling the 300-square-mile blaze.

Officials estimate that it will be fully contained in two or three weeks, but it is expected to keep smoldering for weeks longer and won’t be truly out for months.

“This fire will burn until the first rains or until the snow flies,” said Lee Bentley, a spokesman for the U.S. Forest Service.

Although the 4,900 firefighters here operate under a unified command, the park service has a very different firefighting philosophy from that of the forest service or the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

The portion of the Rim Fire burning outside the park is fought aggressively by the forest service and Cal Fire. Bulldozers rip fire lines across the landscape, and crews fell trees and set protective backfires. Helicopters and tanker airplanes drop water and retardant.

“We want to send as much equipment to a fire as we can,” said Cal Fire spokesman Daniel Berlant. “Our goal is to put it out early and avoid having a large fire.”

But inside parks, a policy often called “fire use,” accepts fire as a naturally occurring process and often a useful tool.

Click here to read the entire story.





NPS Plans RV Park in W. Va. New River Gorge

August 23, 2013 by · Comments Off on NPS Plans RV Park in W. Va. New River Gorge 

Clouds bathe this view of the New River Gorge. The National Park Service is beginning work on an RV park in the park.

A new “flagship” National Park Service (NPS) campground, featuring power and water hookups and drive-in sites for recreational vehicles, is taking shape in the southern end of the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia.

The new Meadow Creek Campground, located on the shore of the New River about two miles downstream of the Sandstone Visitor Center in Summers County, is scheduled to open early next summer, the West Virginia Gazette reported.

The first phase of development for the new campground calls for 17 drive-in car sites, five drive-in RV sites and four walk-in sites for tent campers. Power will be available at all campsites and the five RV sites will also have access to water hookups. A large group-camping site also is part of the initial development plan.

Other campground amenities include communal drinking water spigots, vault toilets, an amphitheater for ranger-led interpretive programs and a public boat launch ramp.

Meadow Creek will be the first non-primitive campground in the New River Gorge National River and the first to charge fees.

National Park Service planners have developed a proposed fee schedule, based on rates charged by other private, state park and U.S. Forest Service campgrounds in the vicinity. By law, the fees must be comparable to and must not undercut rates at other campgrounds in the area.

A new RV park is being planned about two miles south of the Sandstone Visitor Center in the New River Gorge region of West Virginia. Meadow Creek Campground will be the first non-primitive campground in the New River Gorge National River and the first to charge fees. Primitive campgrounds are designated by the camping symbol in this National Park Service map.

Proposed fees for the new campground are $18 per night for walk-in, tent-only sites with power; $24 per night for drive-in car sites with power, and $28 per night for drive-in RV sites with power and water. Fees collected from campers at Meadow Creek will be used to cover electricity and water costs and to maintain other campground amenities at Meadow Creek and other camping areas in the park.

Primitive, no-fee campgrounds are operated by the National Park Service at Army Camp, off W.Va. 41 near Prince; Stone Cliff Beach, off W.Va. 25 near Thurmond; Grandview Sandbar, on Glade Creek Road near Prince; War Ridge/Backus Mountain, off Backus Mountain Road near McCreery.

“There’s a growing need for campgrounds, particularly campgrounds with hookups for high-end RVs, in this area,” said Doug Maddy, president of the Southern West Virginia Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This is a great development, and what makes it particularly great is that it’s happening at the south end of the park, which hasn’t seen the benefit from the park’s presence that the north end has.”

Funds have been allocated for planning — but not yet for developing — a second phase of the campground, which would bring the total number of walk-in tent sites to 10, drive-in car sites to 23, and drive-in RV sites to 7, according to Jamie Fields, planner at New River Gorge National River.

For more information on the campground and to submit comments on the proposed fees, visit the New River Gorge National River’s website at and select from the links at the left side of the page “management,” then “park planning,” then “civic engagement for proposed new fees at Meadow Creek Campground” and then “document list.”

Comments also may be submitted by mail to New River Gorge National River, Attn: Comment on Proposed Camping Fees, P.O. Box 246, Glen Jean, WV 25846-0246. Comments should be submitted no later than Sept. 15.


Sunday – Free Entry to All National Park Units

August 20, 2013 by · Comments Off on Sunday – Free Entry to All National Park Units 

Woodrow Wilson

In celebration of the 97th anniversary of the National Park Service (NPS), all 401 national park units will waive entrance fees on Sunday, Aug. 25.

Known as “Founder’s Day,” this event observes the creation of the NPS through an act of Congress back in 1916.

The fee waiver applies to entrance fees only and does not include fees for camping.

On Aug. 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the NPS Organic Act that established, through congressional legislation, a new agency with a mandate “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.”

“National parks belong to all Americans, and we invite everyone to join us and celebrate this special day,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “From kite-building demonstrations at Wright Brothers National Memorial, to a river paddle at New River Gorge National River or a scenic railroad ride at Steamtown National Historic Site, America’s national parks offer something for the whole family.”

With our partners at the National Park Foundation, the official charity of America’s national parks, we have created an online hub to help you plan your personal National Park Service birthday trip at Join us and share birthday wishes or stories, pictures, or video from your latest or favorite national park adventure.

“Each and every day of the year, the National Park Service protects our country’s treasures, our national parks,” said Neil Mulholland, National Park Foundation president and CEO. “This month we are excited to celebrate the 97th birthday and extend our thanks to the National Park Service for their vital role in preserving America’s awe-inspiring landscapes and rich history.”

If you can’t make it to a park for the big day there are still many ways you can join the fun. The work of the National Park Service extends beyond park boundaries into communities across the country. The National Park Service works with partners to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities that revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the quality of life. Go to to see how we’re helping in your community.


Next Page »