RD815 - Assessment of the Feasibility of Developing the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area Into a State Park – November 1, 2021

Executive Summary:

In 2021, the Virginia General Assembly requested an assessment of the feasibility of converting the Rapidan Wildlife Management Area (WMA), owned by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources, into a State Park.  The assessment required an evaluation of impacts to wildlife within the WMA, an evaluation of any limitations associated with control of the property; capital and operational costs associated with establishing and managing a state park at this location; and an evaluation of a timeline needed to establish a state park.  This report is the result of that assessment, completed by the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.  As a result of the assessment, the agencies have concluded that the ability to develop a traditional Virginia State Park at the Rapidan WMA is limited due to environmental constraints, with development being impactful to existing fish and wildlife and habitats.  State Park development costs are difficult to estimate without an environmental assessment, geotechnical assessment and Master Plan as required for all state parks. A very preliminary estimate for DCR to develop and staff a minimal park operation is $7.9 million and expanded infrastructure would be an additional $10 million.  Preliminary estimates for minimal operations start up would be six to ten years.  Finally, the potential for diversion of funding from existing federal grants administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the cost associated with required replacement land could be substantial.