The process is underway to create Natural Bridge State Park’s first master plan.
All state parks in Virginia are required to have a master plan by law, according to officials, and it could mean some new changes for visitors.
The park has been a state park for nearly three months. Attendance is up significantly compared to this time last year, according to state parks director Craig Seaver.
That is partly due to new signage on Interstate 81 and ticket prices being reduced by more than 50 percent, he added.
“It’s kind of been dormant for a while, but now with the state park system coming in, I think it’s going to be a very positive move,” said Brownlee Tolley, who attended the first public meeting about the master plan Wednesday night.
Tolley has lived in Natural Bridge all his life. He said he would like to see improved facilities and parking, as well as features like new landscaping and fencing near the park.
“Improvements in the approaches to the park – mainly coming down the road and seeing like the land cleaned a little bit,” he said.
“It’s very important to get the input and the feedback from the potential user groups and the folks that will benefit from the state park being an economic engine in their community,” Seaver said.
Officials have already formed an advisory committee of about 35 stakeholders in the community, Seaver said. They have taken a survey and started to discuss some possible changes, including new mountain biking trails, more room for tent camping and an outdoor classroom, according to officials with the Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation.
The Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund also suggested adding an ice rink and a ropes course, state officials announced at the public meeting.
“It could be new trail systems; there could be new [types] of recreational activities, new facilities here,” Seaver said. “That’s all yet to be determined.”
“The bridge and everything has so much potential that…really hadn’t been touched,” Tolley said. “But that will come down the road I’m sure.”
Officials plan on holding another public meeting in the near future, Seaver said.
The process to create a master plan usually takes about 12 to 18 months, Seaver said. A final version of the plan could be released in about a year, he added.