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Mason Neck State Park's Funding Needs


Mason Neck State Park is an 1,814-acre day-use Virginia State Park located in Fairfax County.  Compliance with the Federal Land and Water Conservation Funds Act requires the Commonwealth of Virginia to maintain the Park for public outdoor recreation in perpetuity.


In July 2017, Virginia’s Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) adopted the most recent update to the Mason Neck State Park Master Plan.  This comprehensive Master Plan was extensively researched, presented for public review, recommended by the Board of Conservation and Recreation, and then reviewed for 30 days by the Virginia General Assembly.  At the time of adoption of the Master Plan, there were 5 full-time Park staff positions (plus budget for additional part-time positions). Given the Park’s operational requirements, the Master Plan identified the need for 6 additional full-time positions (3 Educational Specialists and 3 Park Rangers, including a Chief Ranger – Visitor Experiences)


None of the necessary additional full-time positions specified in the Master Plan have been funded, and the Park’s budget for part-time employees has been cut.  As a result, the Park has had to close its Visitor Center on weekdays and to limit the number of days and hours that the Contact Station is open to collect parking fees.  To make a bad situation worse, the Park recently has been notified that the Assistant Park Manager position (which has just been vacated) will not be funded for the upcoming fiscal yearGiven this serious staffing shortage, the Park simply cannot provide effective and efficient operations, programming, and visitor services.


Of the remaining staff, ONLY the Park Manager currently is a Law Enforcement officer.  In addition, because the Park Manager is 1 of only 4 DCR Law Enforcement investigators in the Commonwealth, he is frequently absent from the Park on other duty assignments.  The incoming Chief Ranger – Law Enforcement will initially require 22 weeks of off-site training, plus 8 additional weeks of field training, so this deficit in law enforcement staffing will continue for some time.  Thus, for at least 7 months the Park will be left with NO Law Enforcement officer when the Park Manager is on another assignment or off-duty


Lack of reliable cellular communications and internet service in the Park creates significant additional Park management, law enforcement, and public safety burden and risk.  The burden and risk are exacerbated by the lack of staff, and in particular, Park Rangers, in the Park.


WHAT MUST WE DO THIS YEAR TO SAVE MASON NECK STATE PARK??

  • 1.    Continue to fund the Assistant Park Manager position.
  • 2.    Fully fund the 6 additional full-time ranger and education positions specified in the Master Plan.
  • 3.    Provide sufficient budget for part-time staff to cover critical vacancies during full-time staff training and off-site duties.
  • 4.    Fund technology improvements to provide adequate wireless communications in the Park.

Assistant Park Manager is responsible for:

  • ·         [Daily] Park maintenance and operations
  • ·          Handling law enforcement issues
  • ·         Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, and training full-time, part-time, and seasonal staff
  • ·         Recruiting, interviewing, training, and managing volunteers
  • ·         Park project developments, public relation program development, and any redirection of previously approved resources or projects
  • ·         All duties of Park Manager when he is unavailable.

Chief Ranger – Visitor Experience is responsible for:

  • ·         Planning, development, and management of all environmental, cultural, historical, interpretive, and educational programs
  • ·         Visitor services; operation and staffing of the Park’s Visitor Center
  • ·         Assisting with cash management and administrative programs

Full-time Needs per Master Plan

Actual FY 20

Projected FY 21

Park Mgr.

Park Mgr.

Park Mgr.

Asst. Park Mgr.

Asst. Park Mgr. (left Dec. 2019)

NOT FUNDED

Chief Ranger. Law Enforce.

Position Vacated

New Hire – In training 30 weeks

3 Educ. Specialists

NONE FUNDED

NONE FUNDED

Park Ranger (Maint.)

Park Ranger (Maint.)

Park Ranger (Maint.)

3 Park Rangers*

NONE FUNDED

NONE FUNDED

Program Tech.

Program Tech.

Program Tech.

PART-TIME STAFF BUDGET

$142,369

                        *One of the 3 additional rangers would be the Chief Ranger – Visitor Experience.


PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION SEEKING MORE FUNDING FOR MASON NECK STATE PARK HERE!


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