Don't Close Mason Neck State Park

Friday, February 19, 2010

Please email Bob McDonnell and let him know, you don't want him to close Mason Neck State Park (aka, "Eagle Paradise"). Here are some talking points from friends of the park, but in short, this is a misguided and totally foolish decision.

*Closing Mason Neck State Park and the Elizabeth S. Hartwell Environmental Education Center will be extremely detrimental to Northern Virginia and the thousands of children and adults who are educated at Mason Neck State Park each year.

*Each year, the Elizabeth Hartwell Eagle Festival has nearly 5,000 children and adults attend for dozens of environmental education activities. This is the largest environmental event in NOVA.

*Mason Neck State Park is NOVA's premier Bald Eagle habitat and roosting area and is the shining jewel in the State Park system within just a few miles of our Nation's Capital.

*Each year our State Parks more than pay for themselves with receipts and tax revenues generated and are also extremely beneficial in terms of actual cost outlays per capita.

*Any proposal to close Mason Neck State Park is shortsighted and done without consultation with local leaders or those that know its importance to the last pristine environmental Eagle habitat in NOVA.

UPDATE: Rep. Connolly weighs in on this.
Congressman Gerry Connolly today called on Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell to reconsider his proposal to close Mason Neck State Park, pointing out that the cost to the local economy and lost revenue to the state is five times greater than the $101,904 savings anticipated from the park closure.

In a February 19 letter to McDonnell, Connolly said, “Your decision to close Mason Neck State Park won’t save a dime, will result in more than a half-million dollars in lost revenue to the local economy, lost sales tax and business income tax revenue for the state, and the loss of access to prime recreational and educational opportunities for Northern Virginians.”

Connolly noted that the 88,000 visitors to the Mason Neck State Park last year spent more than $500,000 at local businesses in the area and generated approximately $27,500 in state sales tax revenue, besides paying day-use fees to enter the park. “Closure of the park will not save money for the Commonwealth,” he said.

Connolly said thousands of school children use the environmental education center at the Mason Neck Park in southeastern Fairfax County each year and he pointed out that it is the closest state park for approximately 2 million Northern Virginians. Mason Neck is also the best place in Northern Virginia to observe bald eagles and many other types of wildlife, due to its unparalleled concentration of protected open space.

Mason Neck is the only state park in Fairfax County and the closest state park for residents of Fairfax and Arlington Counties, Alexandria, Fairfax City, and the City of Falls Church.

“I hope you will revisit your decision on this matter,” Connolly wrote.