Thursday, July 2, 2009

Shenandoah National Park to Get $30 Million Bucks

Since I grew up within walking distance of the Skyline Drive, I am thrilled that our new administration selected it to receive much needed funds. Below is the article published in the Rappahannock News. Thank you President Obama!

By Stephen Dareing Special to the Rappahannock News
Source: Rappahannock News

For years, Shenandoah National Park, a part of which is in Rappahannock County and a scant two-hour drive from the national capital, has languished in a lack of attention from previous administrations and visitors alike. But both are now showing renewed interest in the only national park that is a day’s drive away for the 50 million people living and working in the East Coast megalopolis.

On Monday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar met with volunteers and youth groups working in the park for the summer, clearing non-native plants that have invaded the park. The event was part of a national kickoff of United We Serve, a nationwide volunteer service program which President Barack Obama announced on June 17. Accompanying Salazar on the visit was Anne Holton, wife of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine (and daughter of former Virginia Governor A. Linwood Holton, Jr.).

“When President Obama called us to this day of service,” Salazar said, “he asked Americans . . . to embrace the spirit of service . . . and help lay a new foundation for America, one community at a time.”

Salazar and Holton toured the area near the Big Meadows ranger station after participating with volunteers in removing invasive plants around the Big Meadows Swamp nature trail.

Speaking to the Rappahannock News after brief remarks to the national press, Salazar said $30 million had been set aside for Shenandoah National Park as part of the Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009. Asked how this initiative would benefit Rappahannock's economy and economies of other communities surrounding the park, he said: “This $30 million going into the park will mean new roads, rock walls and restoration and improvement” of park facilities.

“This will create immediate jobs beginning this summer and fall,” he said, adding that tourism is “extremely important” to the economy, especially for counties like Rappahannock, and that initiatives and volunteerism to restore national parks can only benefit local, struggling communities.

“It’s important that the story of Shenandoah be told,” he said, and that of other parks across the nation that have been neglected in the recent past.

While Salazar was touring the new visitors center at Big Meadows, rangers Matt Richardson and Joe Sargeant were keen to point out that they’ve seen a remarkable increase this year in the number of “through hikers” — those who walk the entire Appalachian Trail (which passes through the park) from Georgia to Maine – a sign that life, the human kind, is returning to the park.

Volunteer groups working in the park this summer — and who got a chance to meet and speak with the interior secretary — include members of the Shenandoah National Park Association, Potomac Appalachian Trail Club, Student Conservation Corps and Volunteers-in-Parks.

Salazar noted that “in some ways the students here today are following in the footsteps of the 10,000 young people who worked in Shenandoah during the 1930s as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps.”

Here’s hoping that what created Shenandoah National Park — an economic recovery initiative — will also help restore it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh how wonderful! I love going through there in the fall.