Working to restore the economic viability of Virginia's Eastern Shore communities, Representative Scott Rigell (VA-02) called on Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar to address issues impacting recreational opportunities at NASA/Wallops Flight Facility in Accomack County and the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge. In two separate letters to the Secretary, Rigell called on the Department to work with the Eastern Shore on a land swap agreement as well as preserve vital beach parking that plays an integral role in the local economy.
In working to implement a land swap between Accomack County and the NASA/Wallops Flight Facility which would help preserve a local park while moving forward on a new Wallops Research Park, Rigell urged Secretary Salazar to "consider relaxing or modifying" policies that regulate land deals in accordance to monetary gains. Rigell recommended the Department adhere to an acre for acre land swap rather than a dollar for dollar land swap, allowing for the development of a new Wallops Research Park that Accomack has agreed to lease at market rates.
"Accomack County officials are working to create good jobs in their community and NASA is a partner in this effort," wrote Representative Scott Rigell. "Accomack County is committed to building a 32 acre recreational park nearby. I see this course of action as a "win-win" for everyone involved," added Rigell. This proposed expansion would create new, quality jobs for people of the Eastern Shore.
Rigell also petitioned Secretary Salazar on efforts by the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to move beach parking on Assateague Island. This is part of FWS's fifteen year conservation plan for the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge and the Virginia portion of Assateague Island. In his letter, Rep. Rigell emphasized the local communities' desire to meet the Refuge's purpose as a wildlife sanctuary while at the same time preserving all beach parking and public recreation at the National Seashore.
"Our local communities, as well as visitors from across the country, have been alerted to several proposed alternatives that would significantly change the current conservation management plan to reduce direct recreational beach access and eliminate parking facilities for individual vehicles. I am concerned that these alternative parking ideas, to include introducing trolleys or busses to ferry families to and from the beach, are not in the best interests of the people of Accomack County or our country's visitors to the Chincoteague NWR."
There is a concern that this could potentially impact the local and regional tourism based economy of the Eastern Shore.
"Economic viability for Virginia's Eastern Shore communities and recreational opportunities for the Mid-Atlantic Region rely on a continued public investment that must be successfully managed at the Refuge and Seashore. It is essential that any alternative presented during the NEPA EIS Review not negatively impact the local and regional tourism based economy."