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LETTER: Investing in state parks is good economics

LETTER: Investing in state parks is good economics

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Investing in state parks is good economics

Thank you to Del. Bobby Orrock (54th House District) for sponsoring HB 1804 in the Virginia state legislature this year.

HB 1804 “directs the Department of Conservation and Recreation to develop recommendations for dedicated sources of funding for state parks that will be relatively stable from year to year. The Department shall submit its recommendations to the Chairmen of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources, the House Committee on Appropriations, the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources, and the Senate Committee on Finance and Appropriations by November 1, 2021.”

In 2020, as Virginians sought peace in the natural world, Virginia State Parks experienced record attendance. However, COVID-19 restrictions closed park camping areas, cabins and restaurants. Most programs and events were canceled, creating a significant revenue loss for individual state parks that rely on those revenues to pay operating expenses.

Most Virginia State Parks had to lay off front-line rangers and maintenance staff while they were experiencing record attendance and deferred overdue maintenance and repairs. HB 1804 seeks to ensure all Virginia State Parks have stable, dedicated funding to pay their operating expenses.

In a true statement of bipartisan support for Virginia’s State Parks, HB 1804 passed unanimously in the House Subcommittee on Natural Resources (8–o); House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources (22–0); House of Delegates (100–0); Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources (14–0); and state Senate (39–0).

A Virginia Tech report found that Virginia State Parks stimulated more than $286.2 million in visitor spending in 2019. For every $1 of general tax revenue allocated to state parks, they generated an average of $17.68 in new revenue.

Investing in Virginia State Parks makes good economic sense for local businesses, our tax base and the citizens of Virginia.

Robert Williams

Spotsylvania

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