Va. Budget Axe Falls on Eagle Paradise

Five Virginia parks are on closure list

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    An eagle soars.

    It’s a bald eagle’s mecca, a bird’s paradise…2,579 lush, green acres...stretching along the Potomac, dotted with dense forest. It’s prime habitat for eagles and other wildlife.

    However, the public won’t be able to enjoy it for much longer. Caledon Natural Area in King George County is caught in Virginia’s budget crunch. It’s one of five state parks that Governor Bob McDonnell wants to close to the public because of declining attendance and revenue.

    “We looked at attendance figures and these were among the lowest,” Department of Conservation and Recreation spokesman Gary Waugh told the Free Lance-Star. “We were trying to spread closures out geographically so no one part of the state would be hit harder than others."

    The closures would include Mason Neck State Park in Fairfax County, False Cape State Park in Virginia Beach, Twin Lakes State Park in Prince Edward County and Staunton River Battlefield Park in Halifax and Charlotte counties. The good news is that the closures would be temporary. The bad news is that the closures would take effect July 1st or sooner, and there’s no word about when the parks would be reopened.

    According to Waugh, closing the parks would save about $500,000 a year. However, no full-time workers would be let go. About half of those workers would fill vacancies at other parks; and a skeleton crew would stay on to take care of the closed parks until the budget situation improves.

    Virginia has 35 state parks. This may be the first time the state has proposed closing one since the first parks were built back in the1930s.