Changes to rates charged for admission to two area parks will be the topic of discussion at two planned public meetings in the next couple of weeks. The Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge has proposed the introduction of a $5.00 per vehicle daily pass and a $15.00 per vehicle annual pass for access to the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive and three improved boat ramps within the refuge:
- Bairs Cove
- Beacon 42
- Bio Lab
The Blackpoint Wildlife Drive is a 7 mile one-way drive around shallow marsh impoundments and a Pine Flatwoods environment. The self-guided nature drive provides excellent bird and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Aware that many visitors to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge will also visit adjacent Canaveral National Seashore, an adjustment to the entrance fee structure for the seashore has been proposed, as well. Currently, the park charges $3.00 per person for a daily pass (regardless whether they are in a vehicle, on a bicycle, or on foot). Visitors under 16 years old are admitted free. An annual pass to the seashore park is available for $35.00.
Canaveral National Seashore proposes changing the daily entrance fee to $5.00 per vehicle and honoring daily passes from the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. The park will apply $15.00 toward an annual seashore pass if the holder has an annual Merritt Island National Refuge pass. The wildlife refuge will honor Canaveral National Seashore passes in return.
Both areas propose to honor the America the Beautiful Federal Recreational Lands passes. Holders of the Federal Duck Stamp will receive free access to the wildlife refuge. Canaveral National Seashore will honor the Federal Duck Stamp by applying $15.00 (annual cost of the stamp) to the cost of an annual seashore pass.
The proposed changes are to take effect on July 1, 2011. As stated in a January 21, 2011 press release by Canaveral National Seashore, 80% of the revenue collected will be used by the two parks to fund maintenance of the facilities, public educational programs, and expand visitor facilities.
Public meetings are scheduled for Monday, January 31, from 6:00pm – 7:45pm at the Titusville Public Library, 2121 South Hopkins Ave. and for Thursday, February 3, from 6:00pm – 7:00pm at the Coronado Civic Center, 150 S. Pine Street, New Smyrna Beach.
Can’t make the meeting? Submit comments in writing by January 31st to [email protected] (seashore) or to [email protected] (refuge). Comments may mailed to: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, P.O. Box 2683, Titusville, FL 32781 or to Canaveral National Seashore, 212 S. Washington Ave., Titusville, FL 32796.