Comment sought on refuge access fee

Published 6:11 pm Saturday, September 3, 2016

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge is proposing to add a vehicle access fee for the Lake Drummond Wildlife Drive and is seeking public input.

Earlier this year, after a process of regulation changes, as well as a period of public comment, the Lake Drummond Wildlife Drive began opening daily for vehicle and boating traffic with seasonal hours. Visitors are now allowed access to the lake through the Railroad Ditch entrance gate April 1 through Sept. 30, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and October 1 through March 31, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Drivers of all personal vehicles must pick up and complete a self-serve access permit from the permit station on Railroad Ditch Road. At this time, there is no fee for the access permit.

The proposed new fee for vehicle access will be $5 per vehicle and will apply to both boaters and personal vehicles. An annual refuge pass will also be available from the refuge office at a cost of $25 per calendar year. Owners of an America the Beautiful Annual, Senior, or Access pass can present their pass when applying for the annual refuge pass and the fee will be waived. The proposed changes would be implemented beginning in January 2017.

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The refuge is adopting this fee structure to manage the increasing use of this popular entrance. At other entrances on the refuge, visitors have daily opportunities to hike and bike a vast network of trails, sunrise to sunset. Permits, passes, or fees are not required for the hiking or biking visitor.

Public comments regarding this proposed fee structure must be received by 4 p.m. on Sept. 19, 2016.

You may submit comments by email to, by fax to 757-986-2353, or in writing to: USFWS, Attn: Fee Schedule, 3100 Desert Road, Suffolk, VA 23434.

For more information regarding this proposed new access fee, call the refuge headquarters at 986-3705 during business hours, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.