Virginia Sen. Bryce Reeves, R-Spotsylvania, has pulled his bill that would have required state parks to raise their camping fees to avoid competing with nearby private campgrounds.
Reeves asked the Senate Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources Committee to kill his bill because the director of the state’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) has promised to look at the issue, The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, reported.
Reeves, along with Sen. Tom Garrett, R-Louisa, and Del. Peter Farrell, R-Henrico, had filed the bill at the urging of private campground owners led by Bill Small, who runs Small Country Campground in Louisa County.
Small said state parks are increasingly competing with private campgrounds by building new camping areas and providing more amenities, at cheaper rates than private campgrounds and without the expenses private campgrounds have.
Opponents of the bill, led by Virginia Association of Parks President Johnny Finch, said state parks are underfunded as it is, and that the state shouldn’t be requiring them to raise rates in an effort to drive more business to commercial campgrounds.
Sen. Emmett Hanger, R-Augusta, the committee chairman, said the panel would set aside the bill “with the understanding that we are going to be working with DCR to review this issue again to make sure that we are not unfairly competing with the private sector.”
Garrett said afterward that there had been talks among the legislators, the DCR director and the private campground owners.
“We feel like we can address this without legislation,” he said. “What we don’t need to do is pass a bill just to pass a bill.”