Monday, January 13, 2014

Restore Shenandoah National Park to Virginia

Dear Friends,

Restore Shenandoah National Park to Virginia!

Our national parks should not be used as political weapons to be turned against citizens by a President eager to win a budget fight with Congress.  “We the People” own these parks, and “we the People” need new managers who won’t shut down the Shenandoah National Park costing many Virginians their jobs, quarantining family outings and chasing visitors away from Virginia  as President Obama did in his fight to prevent Congressional Republicans from delaying Obamacare, a policy he now supports!   

With divided government in Washington, and politicians switching sides for personal, political advantage, these fights and closures are likely to continue.

That is why I introduced HB 16.  My bill would create a commission to evaluate the possibility of bringing Shenandoah National Park back under Virginia's control.  The commission ‒ which would be bicameral, bipartisan, and temporary ‒ would take a hard look at the feasibility of reacquiring Shenandoah National Park from the federal government, estimate the costs of the transaction, and work with Virginia's Secretary of Natural Resources to develop an annual operating budget for the park.

The hundreds of square miles of the Shenandoah National Park were given to the federal government by Virginia back in 1935, in the depths of the Great Depression to create jobs for the thousands of Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) workers who would build roads and other improvements, to boost the spirits of the residents of the national capital area, and to ensure that the land and its awe-inspiring views of the Shenandoah Valley would be held in sacred trust for all Americans to use in perpetuity.
But when US Interior Department employees barricaded our national parks and open-air memorials during the October government shutdown, Washington breached that trust.  By closing businesses operating inside the parks, the federal government destroyed jobs.  By making it illegal for millions of tourists to visit the parks, the federal government threatened the livelihoods of the thousands of small businesses and their employees.

Other states with national parks have taken same idea.  At least five Utah counties declared states of emergency in response to the closures, with four of them reporting losses of over $300,000 per day in tourist spending.  San Juan County, Utah officials even threatened to storm the barricades, take control of its parks, and reopen them to the public.
Utah ultimately spent over $1.7 million of its own money during the “partial government shutdown” to reopen eight of its national parks so that local economies would not suffer.  Arizona, Colorado, New York, Tennessee, and South Dakota spent a a combined total of nearly $2 million to reopen the Grand Canyon, Statue of Liberty, Rocky Mountain, Great Smoky Mountain, and Mount Rushmore national parks for the same reason.

Closures have destroyed the trust relationship on which the Commonwealth of Virginia relied when it first gave the federal government control of land that became Shenandoah National Park.

Given current levels of federal spending and gridlock in Washington, Congress cannot possibly guarantee that our parks won’t be closed in the future.  Virginia and Virginians need – and deserve – a permanent solution.
This is why I'm calling on the Old Dominion to seize the moment.  Unlike the federal government, Virginia cannot “shut down,” and we are required by law to submit balanced budgets.  All of Virginia's agencies are “on duty” 24/7.  Individually and collectively, the States are more than capable of running ourparks in ways that best suit the needs of the nation, regions, communities, and citizens.  Virginians know that  preservation of the environment and natural resources are essential to economic development.
President Theodore Roosevelt once said that Americans “have fallen heirs to the most glorious heritage a people ever received, and each one must do his part if we wish to show that the nation is worthy of its good fortune.”  My HB 16 calls all Virginians to heed the words of Teddy Roosevelt, and to step forward and fight for their right to learn about our history and our heritage in the places where it developed, and to enjoy the wonders of nature as the Creator made them.
Go here to learn who represents you and ask your friends to contact their members of the House of Delegates and State Senate to support HB 16.  And also please look at the members of the House Rules Committee where HB 16 was assigned.

If you representative is a member of the Rules Committee you can be very influential in securing passage of HB 16.  Please ask your representatives to co-patron HB 16 and vote for it in Committee and on the House floor.  

Thank you for your support.


Contact Information:
703-853-4213 (cell) (preferred)
Mailing address:
P.O. Box 421
Manassas, VA 20108

Paid for and Authorized by Friends of Bob Marshall

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