Resolution encourages park funding

Published 10:51 am Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A resolution unanimously approved by supervisors in Cumberland County on Sept. 12 requests the Virginia General Assembly to fully fund Virginia’s state parks in 2018.

The annual profits for area state parks, according to a recent study, is in the millions.

Tim Kennell, a member of Friends of Bear Creek Lake State Park, addressed members of the board about the annual profits of area parks, citing a 2016 study by Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business “Virginia State Parks Economic Impact Report.”

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Using Bear Creek Lake State Park in Cumberland and High Bridge State Park as examples, Kennell said that the study found that total visitor spending in 2016 was $3.39 million at Bear Creek and $8 million at High Bridge.

“That got my attention,” Kennell said.

He noted one of the largest demographics included non-resident spending at the parks. Non-resident spending at Bear Creek was estimated close to $1.4 million, according to the study.

Kennel, who was advocating for the resolution’s approval, said the funds from visitors brings numerous benefits to Cumberland.

“These people have wallets and credit cards, and I’d like to see those funds stay in Cumberland,” Kennell said.

The total economic impact of Virginia State Parks during 2016 was between $219.8 million
and $259.1 million, according to the study.

The economic impact is defined in the study as “‘fresh money’ infused into the state’s economy that likely would have not been generated in the absence of the park system.”

Kennell said cabins in particular yield remarkable profits, and noted during the meeting that for every dollar of generated tax revenue from Virginia State Parks, it could potentially generate $13 in profit.

The study and a copy of the county resolution cites that Bear Creek Lake was responsible for 53.6 jobs, including jobs directly and indirectly relating to the state park and has attracted roughly 97,000 visitors.

The resolution requests that the Virginia General Assembly “support funding needed to adequately maintain and operate current facilities as well as currently authorized future construction as detailed in the Virginia Association for Parks Needs Assessment.”

Kennell said there are seven state parks in and surrounding Cumberland County. The parks include Bear Creek, High Bridge, Holliday Lake State Park, Pocahontas State Park, Powhatan State Park, Sailor’s Creek Battlefield State Park and Twin Lakes State Park.