Legislation introduced by Delegate Bobby Orrock that seeks to address funding issues for Virginia’s state parks unanimously passed the House of Delegates and will now be heard by the Senate.
HB 1804 (Orrock) requires the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to develop recommendations for one or more dedicated, stable sources of funding for the state parks system. DCR shall convene stakeholders to study the issue and develop recommendations and shall submit its recommendations to the General Assembly no later than November 1, 2021.
A 2019 study by the Virginia Tech Pamplin School of Business reported that in 2019, visitors to Virginia’s state parks spent approximately $286.2 million in the Commonwealth, nearly 45% ($130.2 million) of which was spent by out-of-state visitors. The report further noted that the total economic activity stimulated by Virginia State Parks during 2019 was approximately $437.7 million, an estimated $343 million of which is considered “fresh money,” funds that likely would have not been generated at all in the absence of the park system. In terms of the park system’s impact directly on counties, the report details millions of dollars of economic activity in counties that are above state averages.
HB 1804 passed the House on January 26 by unanimous vote. The bill has now been referred to the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee, where it awaits a hearing.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.