A plan to charge an annual fee to bicyclists and other users along the entire length of the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath has been abandoned by the National Park Service.
The park service, which administers the trail that links Washington DC and Cumberland, MD, also is dropping plans to charge a $20 per night fees for the hike-and-bike campsites along the trail.
Trail users roundly attacked the proposed fee increases during public hearings and in online comments. Park superintendent Kevin Brandt wrote in a press release:
“We have seen the great passion we all share for this park displayed over the course of three public meetings and have three more scheduled. At this point we’re modifying our proposal and will continue public dialog.”
The trail is one of the most popular in the nation. It links with the Great Allegheny Passage rail-trail in Cumberland to create a 340-mile off-road trail from Washington DC to Pittsburgh, PA.
The park service suggested the new user fees to pay for maintenance and operating costs of the park. Instead, the park plans to increase the user and parking fees at Great Falls, MD, which is the currently the only location along the trail where fees are charged. Also, fees charged at drive-in campgrounds will be increased as well as the Carderock Pavilion.
This should be good news to all those who encouraged the park service to re-think plans to charge user fees the entire length of the trail. The park service certainly responded to your objections.
The park service will continue to take public comments on its updated plans at the following public hearings:
– Wednesday, Feb. 11, at Storer Ballroom at the Shepherd University Student Center, 210 North King Street, Shepherdstown, WV, from 6:30-8:00 PM
– February 17, 2015, at Brunswick City Park Building, 655 East Potomac Street, Brunswick, MD, from 6:30-8:00 PM.
Here is the updated fee structure as spelled out by park service:
Park Annual Pass:
·Current: $20, Great Falls, MD only
·Proposed: $30, Great Falls, MD only
Per Vehicle Pass:
·Current: $5/vehicle for 3 days, Great Falls, MD only
·Proposed: $15/vehicle for 7 days, Great Falls, MD only
Per Person Pass:
·Current: $3/person for 3 days, Great Falls, MD only
·Proposed: $7/person for 7 days, Great Falls, MD only
·Current: $5/motorcycle for 3 days, Great Falls, MD only
·Proposed: $10/motorcycle for 7 days, Great Falls, MD only
The park is are also proposing to increase fees for campgrounds and picnic pavilions. Comparability studies have been completed to determine rates. The proposals are as follows:
·Single Site Rate: Current: $10 per night, Proposed $20 per night
·Group Site Rate: Current $20 per night, Proposed $40 per night
Hiker-Biker Camping Sites:
·Current: No Charge, no changed proposed
Picnic Pavilion: Carderock Pavilion
·Monday-Thursday: Current $150 per day, Proposed $250 per day
·Friday-Sunday &Holidays: Current $250 per day, Proposed $350 per day