Monday, February 22, 2010

Like NoVA Has So Many State Parks To Begin With?

So much for campaign promises:
When Bob McDonnell wanted to tout his commitment to land conservation last year, the Republican gubernatorial candidate singled out Mason Neck as part of "the Virginia I will preserve and protect as governor."

Less than a year after his Earth Day statement, the new governor is proposing to close the southeastern Fairfax County park as a cost-cutting measure to close a $4 billion shortfall.
The McDonnell administration is trying to justify the closure in part by saying "potential closures are spread across the state." But there's one major problem with that argument: Virginia's State Parks aren't evenly spread across the state -- not even close

Northern Virginia is shortchanged on state parkland even with Mason Neck. Check out this map of Virginia state parks:

It's a similar story for Virginia Natural Area Preserves -- only one in the entire northern third of Virginia (Bull Run Mountains). As Rep. Gerry Connolly points out, Mason Neck "is the closest state park for approximately 2 million Northern Virginians." Buying parkland on the cheap in distant corners of the state looks great to Richmond bureaucrats -- but it creates a perverse system where the most parks are located the furthest from Virginia's biggest population center.

Keeping Mason Neck open would cost just $101,904 -- or less than 0.1% of the revenue that would be brought in by re-instating the estate tax on Virginia's biggest inheritances, estimated to bring in over $100 million a year. But as the Staunton News Leader editorialized over the weekend, last November voters chose tax cuts over progress -- "Welcome to the new Virginia. Looks a lot like the old West Virginia."

UPDATE: Join the Save Mason Neck State Park Facebook group

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